By Ashley Silver
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SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The Fraternal Order of Police Pennsylvania Lodge, the Springfield Township Police Benevolent Association and three officers filed a lawsuit against Springfield Township and its board of commissioners over a ban on the thin blue line flag symbol. Now, the township has agreed to an injunction, effectively halting the ban.
The plaintiffs asked a judge for an emergency temporary restraining order, followed by an injunction, to stop the flag from being removed after the board voted 5-2 to ban the display of the flag on township property, police uniforms, officers’ tattoos while on duty and any township property in the community.
According to the Delaware Valley Journal, a judge issued the order this week after both sides agreed to the injunction.
“We are very pleased,” Wally Zimolong, attorney for the police, told the news outlet. “The resolution is blatantly unconstitutional as re-enforced by decades of Supreme Court precedent. But it is unfortunate that it took a federal lawsuit to halt its implementation.”
Questions regarding the flag were brought to light initially after residents on both sides of the issue expressed their thoughts during a township meeting. Those who opposed the flag eventually convinced the board that the flag should be removed.
The lawsuit states that the ban is “blatantly unconstitutional and defiles bedrock First Amendment principles reiterated by a legion of Supreme Court cases.”
“These First Amendment protections are not diluted for speech that some might find offensive, distasteful or controversial,” the lawsuit said. “And governments, including municipal governments, cannot ban speech. The thin blue line flag has come to represent a show of support for and solidarity with members of law enforcement, which includes police officers. Through a resolution at its national conference, the Fraternal Order of Police have affirmed its support for the use of the thin blue line flag by law enforcement and the communities they protect.”