Photo: Joe Killoran
Kamloops defense attorney Joe Killoran took this photo of a constable wearing a “thin blue line” patch on his tactical vest – that subtle horizontal blue line across the Canadian flag and behind the regimental number of the ‘officer. Killoran said he was approached by the officer, whom he described as “aggressive” and “hostile,” while visiting his Tiny House Warrior clients at an encampment last month in Blue River.
A Kamloops lawyer is sounding the alarm after being confronted in North Thompson by a “hostile” RCMP officer wearing a “thin blue line” patch on his tactical vest – a charged political symbol that the National Police told the mounted police not to wear.
Joe Killoran, a defense attorney who represents a number of members of the Tiny House Warriors, said he was in an encampment in Blue River last month for a meeting with his clients when he was approached by a gendarme wearing a “thin blue line” symbol on his waistcoat.
“This officer was asking me questions aggressively and immediately had a sort of hostile attitude,” Killoran told Castanet Kamloops.
“I didn’t want to talk to him, especially when I saw that [symbol] on him. He wears this badge and when I asked him about it he said he was proud to wear it.
The so-called âthin blue lineâ badges are subtle symbols worn by some police officers – usually involving a horizontal blue line cutting a Canadian flag in half. As a result of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, the symbol took on anti-BLM significance and is viewed by many, Killoran included, as racist.
The symbol was discussed in detail in a recent ruling by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson, who refused to extend an injunction against protesters of the ancient logging at Fairy Creek on the island of Vancouver.
Thompson criticized the RCMP for failing to implement its own directive, issued a year ago, that constables do not wear the “thin blue line” symbol. The national police said in a court file that matters relating to the dress of officers was the responsibility of the RCMP, not a judge.
In court, mounted police said the symbol is meant to represent the role the police play in protecting social order.
According to Killoran, the problem is black and white.
“The police choose to ignore a directive not to wear this particular political symbol – and their willingness or eagerness to wear a racist symbol despite being told not to do so is indicative of some of the problems of racism in the RCMP, âhe said.
âThey have already admitted that they are a systematically racist organization. They should work on becoming anti-racist, not wearing paraphernalia, which they have been ordered not to wear, which is worn by white supremacist groups.
Castanet Kamloops has asked the BC RCMP for clarification on the matter.
“Regarding the ‘thin blue line’, we respect the fact that the RCMP issued directives regarding the patch (it was not a specific policy) and we understand the position of the RCMP union on this issue ( they support those who wear the patch) “, RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau said in an emailed statement.
Killoran complained to the detachment commander in Clearwater, who said he would look into the matter.
âIt’s a situation that requires sensitivity. They are defenders of indigenous lands on a site they are occupying, and that requires a police force that wants to defuse the situation, âKilloran said.
âI can’t think of anything more inflammatory than going to an Indigenous blockade with a Blue Lives Matter flag. I mean, the movement opposes attempts to end police brutality. It really is a statement that, ‘I am your enemy.’ “
According to Killoran, the fact that some members of the mounted police wear the “thin blue line” symbol at the Blue River encampment shows that the RCMP is treating the Tiny House Warriors unfairly.
âThe police are not honest brokers. When dealing with aboriginals or progressives, they see their job as crushing dissent, âhe said.
“When you have a special unit like aggressive cops, all you have is a bunch of hammers – and everyone looks like a nail.”