Minnesota Wild this week announced a set of premium ticket packages for the 2022-2023 season. Among them was Teacher Appreciation Night, Cancer Hockey Night, Pride Night, and what turned out to be a controversial promotion, Law Enforcement Appreciation Night.
The topic itself didn’t attract much reaction, but photos and the jersey that Wilde unveiled in the November 1 game against the Montreal Canadiens were criticized for including the “thin blue line” symbol.
Originally intended to recognize the work the police services do to protect communities, and to honor fallen officers, the “Thin Blue Line” symbol was chosen and adopted by white nationalist groups opposing the fight for racial equality and anti-racism initiatives after the murder. For George Floyd.
Minnesota has been central to debates about police violence, specifically toward black communities. George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer in 2020. Minneapolis is part of the Twin Cities, along with St. Paul, where Minnesota Wild plays. The Twin Cities have a history of notable incidents of police killing unarmed black people, including the 2016 murder of Philando Castile in St. Paul and the killing of Don Wright and Prince Locke in 2021 in Minneapolis.
in Minneapolis, The last investigation is over The Minneapolis Police Department “engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination.” Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said the report “paints a disturbing picture of the city of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department practicing a pattern of racial discrimination over the past decade.”
The “Thin Blue Line” flag has been linked to white supremacy since the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the flag was raised prominently alongside the swastikas and Union flags. The “thin blue line” appeared on patches and flags at rallies by white supremacist groups including the Proud Boys and Klu Klux Klan, as well as at the January 6 rebellion in Washington, DC. The flag and the resulting Blue Lives Matter groups showed up at rallies against the Black Lives Matter movement.
When fans saw the Minnesota Wild promotional jersey, which features a “thin blue line” version of the American flag, with a blue hockey stick in the design, questions appeared online, causing Wild to quickly remove the graphics from their website.
In a statement responding to the symbol’s use and subsequent removal, Wild said: “We understand that the black and blue flag symbol means many things to many people. Our one goal was to show support for law enforcement for the outstanding work they do in our local communities. Moving forward, we will work hard to show Appreciation for different groups in ways that best reflect our community’s shared values.”
However, many, including Nathan Kallman Lamb, a former lecturer fellow at Duke University and current assistant professor at the University of New Brunswick, did not see Wilde’s response adequate.
“Minnesota Wild’s choice to use imagery closely associated with both racist police brutality and far-right movements more broadly, when the franchise itself is primarily located at the site of the police killing of George Floyd, sends a powerful message about the ‘society’ team trying to woo as fans,” Kalman Lamp, who is also co-host end of sports podcast, Yahoo Sports said.
In April 2021, after the conviction of George Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin, Wild issued a statement Saying, “Wild is committed to driving social change and promoting inclusion by providing a safe, positive, and welcoming environment for all community members and employees.”
According to Kalman Lamb, the organization has not fulfilled this obligation.
“Indeed, this promotion and Wild’s refusal to apologize in earnest is a clear and incredibly disturbing signal that despite two years of rants to the contrary, North American hockey culture is still a deep – toxic – white place,” he wrote.
Across North America, not only are those involved in the fight for racial equality now aware of the current meaning attributed to the “thin blue line” symbol, law enforcement agencies are also making a change to separate from the symbol. In Canada, police services in Vancouver, Calgary, Victoria, Charlottestown and Toronto, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, have restricted the use of the code by officers.
After a Charlottetown officer was seen wearing the symbol at a Pride Week event in July of 2022, Charlottetown Police issued a statement saying“The history and controversy surrounding this symbol, specifically its racist and extremist origins, is clearly not aligned with the protection and community services” that the Charlottetown police aim to deliver.
In 2020, Chief Constable Kristin Roman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department, in response to the rebellion in the US capital, said, issued a statement to the staff sayingWe can all agree that the hateful actions and ideologies of extremists who have conspicuously chosen the high blue flag in promoting their views not only threaten our democracy, our societies, and justice in all its forms, but they run counter to the core values of the UWPD and significantly impede our efforts to build trust.
What started as a symbol of support and respect, President Roman says, has changed, and continuing to use the “thin blue line” symbol now means something different.
“The scales have turned, and we must consider the cost of clinging to an undeniable and inextricable code of actions and beliefs that go against UWPD values.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Sean Cornett, Calgary Police Committee Chairman, A 2022 press release indicates that officers in Calgary will no longer wear the symbol. “People in our society have clearly expressed that the thin patch of the Blue Line on police officers makes them uncomfortable due to its history and current use by groups opposed to racial equality. As policing develops, so must its codes.”
According to the Minnesota Wild website, the team still intends to host a Law Enforcement Appreciation Night, “to thank the brave men and women serving the State of Hockey” on November 1 when the team hosts the Montreal Canadiens. The ticket package will still include the “Wild-branded Hometown Heroes T-Shirt,” although no design has been confirmed yet.
More from Yahoo Sports