By Jon Dougherty
Though Americans harbor differences of opinion on a range of topics and issues, you would think that we could all agree that seeing the image of an American flag in America is an appropriate celebration of our country.
But you’d be wrong, especially when it comes to the People’s Socialist Republic of California.
When the city of Laguna Beach decided to change the logo on its 11 police patrol vehicles to include an image of the American flag, they believed it was the ultimate display of patriotism. But for some residents, repainting the police vehicles from white to a more traditional black-and-white pattern to include the flag image in the word ‘POLICE’ was too much…‘Merica.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
A decision to affix an American flag graphic to the side of freshly painted Laguna Beach police cars is dividing residents, who are alternately praising the image as patriotic or panning it as too aggressive.
After hearing the criticism and acknowledging that the image they approved didn’t quite match the final results, officials agreed to reconsider their February decision to paint the Laguna Beach Police Department’s fleet of 11 squad cars. The City Council will take up the issue again at its Tuesday meeting.
“People are screaming that the American flag on a police car is somehow or another … hurting people’s feelings who might be immigrants or visitors,” said Councilman Peter Blake, the Times reported. “People are actually ridiculous enough to bring up comments about our cop cars having American flags on them.”
Last month, artist Carrie Woodburn said at the council meeting it was “shocking to see the boldness of the design” when the newly painted Ford Explorers rolled out.
“We have such an amazing community of artists here, and I thought the aesthetic didn’t really represent our community,” Woodburn said. “It feels very aggressive.”
Celebrating America in America is too…”aggressive?”
Jennifer Welsh Zeiter, an attorney, said last month she found the design “exceptional” and went on to question — rightfully, we believe — the loyalties of anyone in the city who questioned incorporating the American flag into a police vehicle design (cops have been wearing American flag patches on the sleeves of their uniform shirts for decades and decades).
“They are so filled with hatred toward this … office of the president of the United States and the current occupant of that office,” she said, “that they cannot see through their current biases to realize that a police vehicle with the American flag is the ultimate American expression.”
More from the Times:
But the graphic element of the paint job didn’t scream “Laguna Beach” to everyone. Local designer Chris Prelitz was dining with his wife at the Montage hotel when he spotted several parents and small children scattering.
“There was like a little panic going on, and I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ ” Prelitz said. The hubbub, he discovered, was over a cluster of police cars that had arrived at the scene. “When one of them’s there, it works. But all of a sudden, I saw, wow, when there are three, maybe four of them together, folks thought it was a SWAT team, federal agents. So it had a very striking, strong impact, so much so that I think there might be some unintended consequences.”
The officers, however, say the feedback they are getting when local residents see the redesigned police vehicles has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Every time I came to a stop sign, every time I came to a red light, somebody is telling me the car looks great,” Laguna Beach PD Cpl. Ryan Hotchkiss said at last month’s council meeting.
“Every one of our members that drives the car loves it, and we look forward to keeping them the way they are.”
On Tuesday, the Times reported, the council will decide what to do about the American flag design. But members say that the squad cars will at least remain black-and-white.
Image: Laguna PD Twitter page.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10