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John Gleason

Dear Editor,

 By raising a flag, we raise awareness and support the hundreds of causes that need it, none more important than the other. The flags we raise are full of symbolism of hope and renewal. Often the flags we lower speak louder than those raised to honor a fallen soldier or police officer killed in the line of duty.

 Earlier this month, the Genesee County Commission passed a resolution to fly a flag over county buildings to recognize the valuable role the LGBTQIA+ community has in our community. I was disappointed in the commissioners who voted against it.

 I was also disappointed when shortly after county voters voted to pass a public safety millage and 911 surcharge, the Commission rejected a resolution honoring our police to fly the thin blue line flag over county buildings. Like the stripes on the LGBTQIA+ flag, the thin blue line for support for our local police.

 Those who spoke up against supporting our police claimed they saw the thin blue line on the insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol on January 6. In addition to campaign flags, the only flag I saw was the American flag, which was used by the terrorists to damage the Capitol and anyone who stood in their way. Yet, no one is speaking up about taking down the American flag over our county buildings.

 I recognize that there are good cops and bad cops, just like honest politicians and crooked ones. Still, we can’t let the actions of a few ruin our opportunity to recognize the courage of those we just voted to protect us, especially when violent crimes continue to rise in our County. The Commission has allowed the insurrectionists to hijack a symbol of unity and use it as a token of hate.

 While the County Commission fails to honor our local police, nothing stops me from displaying the flag in my county office, which is what I will do. I will put it alongside any other flag that represents inclusion and respect for all cultures and communities. By displaying these flags, including the thin blue line, I stand up to racism, hatred, and bigotry. I am using my bully pulpit to raise awareness that no matter what you look like, who you love, or what you believe in, we all need to be respectful of one another. As a community, we should start acting like a community and respect and honor those who put their lives on the line to protect our own.

— John Gleason, Genesee County clerk and register of deeds

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