Thin Blue Line Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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Have you seen the thin blue line images and wondered what they mean? Here, we’ve taken a deep dive into the history of this symbol and what it means today. 

The thin blue line represents the role of the police in society: to uphold the law by protecting citizens from crime. In many cases, it is meant to show solidarity with the police

Like many other symbols relating to the U.S. flag — including the confederate and white American flags — it has become a very controversial sign in the USA. Some see thin blue line imagery as a sign of white supremacists, bigotry, and extremists. 

At the end of the day, what does this flag represent and stand for? Read on to find out! 

What Is the Thin Blue Line? 

The Thin Blue Line is a symbol that represents the relationship between law enforcement and the community. The thin blue line was created to honor fallen officers and support law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line daily to protect civilians from harm.

These days, you’re likely to see it on bumper stickers, memorials for fallen officers, and similar contexts. Today we’ll cover this symbol and how to use it properly.

Its modern purpose was created in 2014 by college student Andrew Jacob from Ohio as a way to honor police officers. Its blue stripe on a traditional American flag stands for the blue uniforms police chiefs and officers wear. 

Controversy Surrounding the Thin Blue Line

White supremacists have used the thin blue line flag to support law enforcement, and it has also been used to protest against police brutality. The flag was also used as a flashpoint in protests surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the removal of confederate statues. 

As with any symbol, context is critical: if you see someone wearing this emblem or waving it at a rally, ask yourself why they’re doing so and what message they intend to convey.

Because of its association with supporters of Donald Trump and other people who want to unite the right-wing aspect of government, many people on the left dislike it. It has been used to protest other protests and demonstrations surrounding the murder of George Floyd and other crimes that have happened in the line of duty of police officers. 

Rioters also used it during the January 6th attacks on the Capitol. Thin blue line USA flags were seen, with the thin blue line American flag as a primary symbol of the events of that day. Because of that, many people have taken offense to the flag, even if its original intentions and purposes weren’t based on hateful concepts. 

Due to its prevalence within police forces, it has shown up in the NYPD (New York Police Department) and LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department), even though they are based in much more left-leaning places in the country. 

Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter

Activists created the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police officers and other officials. 

In 2014, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old Black man named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Afterward, many people began protesting against police brutality by wearing shirts that said “Black Lives Matter” and holding signs with similar messages. 

The phrase “All Lives Matter” was used by some people who felt that Black lives should not be given more attention than any other race or ethnicity — fundamentally misunderstanding that Black Lives Matter was created in response to the disproportionate oppression of Black people in America. 

Using a similar structure to “All Lives Matter,” some supporters of the police chose to create the phrase “Blue Lives Matter,” using “blue” to refer to the police force. However, this has sparked controversy for many reasons — for one, many “Blues Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” supporters are using these phrases to thinly veil their racism.

For more information on the relationship between Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter, check out this explainer from The New School.

The Blue Line vs. The Red Line

The Blue Line symbolizes support for the police and law enforcement. It is said to represent the thin blue line that separates order from chaos, good from evil, and safety from danger. 

Those who have served in law enforcement or have lost loved ones in the force often wear this symbol on their clothes or jewelry as a sign of respect and support. 

The Thin Red Line symbolizes support for the military and veterans. The red line is typically used to show unity with our troops when they are fighting overseas conflicts against terrorist groups such as ISIS (Islamic State Of Iraq And Syria). Many people also use this symbol to show their appreciation for those who serve in our military branches. 


As you can see from reading this blog, there are many different meanings to the thin blue line. Although it originally was intended as a symbol of hope and unity between law enforcement officers, it has become a symbol of racism and right-wing propoganda. 

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Thin Blue Line Meaning |

Police definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

POLICE | Cambridge English Dictionary

How “Blue Lives Matter” Perpetuates Police Violence | Public Seminar