Mount Prospect mayor says patch debate is over, but others pushing for more removals
Mount Prospect will be removing the "thin blue line" patch from its police officers' uniforms, but that doesn't mean the chapter is closed on the heated debate over its controversial imagery.
That's because the symbol still remains on village property, including the police headquarters and police vehicles. Some residents and village leaders are calling for its elimination from those locations as well.
Trustee Peggy Pissarreck, who was in the 4-3 village board majority that voted Tuesday to remove the patch from uniforms, said she hopes "we will be able to remove that symbol from all village property and from all village employees' clothing while they are working their job for the village, for the community."
Resident Ronak McFadden, a vocal opponent of the patch, called the board's action Tuesday "disingenuous" without further steps to remove the symbol from all "taxpayer-funded property."
"There is no room for white supremacy in Mount Prospect," she said.
The uniform patch -- featuring a black-and-white American flag with a single blue stripe -- has been a source of division in the village for months. Police and supporters say the thin blue line honors law enforcement officers who've died in the line of duty. Opponents say the imagery has been co-opted by white nationalists and other extremist groups, and the police department's use of it is threatening to people of color.
Trustee Richard Rogers, who voted in favor of the patch, said he is convinced Tuesday's vote is only the first step for the anti-patch advocates, which he called a small group of the community.
"They now feel empowered, because they beat the board, and now the sky is the limit on what they're going to ask for," he said. "I support the police who designed the patch and who wanted the patch, and who now are really hurt because of the patch."
But Mayor Paul Hoefert said the debate is over.
"As far as I'm concerned, we put the patch to bed last night, and for now we move on," Hoefert said. "We have got to do the business of the village, and while this was an important discussion, there are a lot of other things that we need to set policy on."
There are no plans to replace the patch or come up with an alternate design, he said.
As for the symbol's use in other contexts, he said, "Will it come up? I suppose it could. But for now, it's the patch."
The village also intends to move forward with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
"That commitment has not waned," he said.