On Tuesday, June 23rd, the Township received information about a protest to be held regarding the thin blue line flag flown at the corner of Route 82 and Brandywine. Township staff immediately conferred with the Summit County Sheriff. Given the nature of the posts made regarding the potential protest, as well as in consideration of protests held in other areas of the country, Trustees Mazzola and Reville felt it was in the best interest of the Township to remove the one flag from the intersection, for at least the time being. This was not done, as has been indicated, to cave in to a few protestors. Nor was this intended, in any way, to indicate that the Township does not support or respect police departments and their individual officers. Rather, the decision was made based on the best information available, the perceived credibility and impact of the threat (particularly, the prospective impact on traffic on 82), and, above all, the desire on the part of the trustees to keep our residents and officers safe and maintain community tranquility. Each of the trustees fully supports all law enforcement officers in our communities.
As was to be expected, many residents expressed their dissatisfaction regarding the removal of the flag. As elected officials, we always strive to be responsive to the collective voice of our residents, while respecting the right of all to peacefully voice dissent. So, taking this opportunity to do more research and trying to take the best approach to protect all of our residents, while listening to all feedback we received, we saw this as an opportunity to update our flag posture at all of our buildings-one that would continue to show our support not only for police, but, also, for Fire/EMS and our military.
After talking with and gaining the support of the Sheriff’s Office and Macedonia Fire Chief Brian Ripley, we will, beginning on Friday, June 26th, fly the red blue line American flag at both the Town Hall and Safety Building facilities. These American flags encompass our support not just for our law enforcement officers, but, additionally, for our fire and EMS first responders, while being inclusive of all of our heroes. Additionally, at the corner of Brandywine and route 82, you will see the Armed Forces Flag being flown in support of all those who serve in our miltary branches.
While we recognize that we are living in challenging times, we also want to make it clear that, despite reprehensible, criminal actions perpetrated by a small number of officers, we are proud and supportive of our first responders and military and want to ensure we show appropriate and deserved gratitude for all those who devote their lives to protecting us as individuals and protecting the rights we cherish in this country. This week has given us the opportunity to strengthen that support, while coming together as a community, and for that we can all be thankful. We all want a safe and peaceful community; one that is defined by solidarity, and not division.
Please be well and stay safe.
Russ Mazzola, Trustee
Rich Reville, Vice-Chair/Trustee