Hollister City Council delayed its decision to display the “thin blue line flag” at town hall on August 2, citing the need for more information on the importance of the timing.
On July 16, the city received a request from a group that identifies itself as “concerned citizens”, asking it to hoist the blue flag at city hall for the month of October.
The request included a dozen pages of signatures that were collected by Hollister residents Michael Fry and Silas Quintero.
But council members did not understand why the group chose October to fly the flag, which supporters say shows support for fallen law enforcement officials. National Peace Officers Memorial Day falls in May, noted board member Tim Burns, adding that October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The council voted unanimously to postpone the decision until Aug. 16 to seek more information from the petitioners.
The issue of flags flying at Town Hall has been a recent topic of discussion for Council.
In May, council adopted a policy that allows residents to ask the city to fly a flag at City Hall. The request must receive 100 signatures for council to consider.
The pride flag in recognition of the LGBTQ + community was hoisted in early June.
Shortly thereafter, council member Rick Perez submitted a request to the city asking for the display of the Christian flag in April 2022, garnering 120 signatures. On June 21, the council voted 3-1 to request a letter from Attorney General Rob Bonta regarding the legality of flying a religious flag on government property.
Burns suggested the city should change its ordinance, such as requiring signature collectors to provide general information about the meaning of the flag and specify the number of flags that can be hoisted on the pole.
Council member Rick Perez, who sponsored the Blue Flag request, said council must honor the ordinance as it is currently drafted.
“Whichever month they chose, it’s the month they chose,” he said. “They followed the rules, there is no reason they should be turned down.”
The Blue Flag has been a controversial topic nationwide. Defenders say the flag is meant to represent support for law enforcement, while opponents argue the flag has links to hate groups, citing the use of the flag at rallies alongside Confederate and Nazi flags . Some of the protesters who stormed the United States Capitol in the deadly January 6 riots reportedly carried similar Blue Line flags.
The flag looks like the American flag, but it is blue and white, with a lighter blue stripe in the middle. This has led opponents to say that the flag violates the American Flag Code, citing language in the code that prohibits any “mark, badge, letter, word, figure, design, image or design of any kind” on the American flag. .
However, flag specialists have said that since the Blue Flag is technically not an American flag, it does not violate the code.
In an interview with Politifact, Peter Ansoff, president of the North American Vexillological Association, pointed out the section of the code that states that “the flag of the United States shall have 13 horizontal stripes, alternating red and white; and the union of the flag will be forty-eight stars, white in a blue field.