MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Chief of Police has issued a statement after he received backlash for having a “Thin Blue Line” flag behind him while attending a video conference on diversity and inclusion with the university.
The Campus Conversation, which focused on diversity and inclusion, was held on Wednesday afternoon via Zoom. The event occurred following letters issued on June 5 by WVU President Gordon Gee and Vice President for Diversity Equity and Inclusion Meshea L. Poore, Esq. and University Chief W.P. Chedester, which advocated for fostering a safe, diverse and inclusive culture at WVU.
During the conference, Chief William Chedester had a “Thin Blue Line” flag, which is commonly associated with support for police officers and “Blue Lives Matter,” hanging up behind him in his office.
Following the conference on Wednesday, Chedester issued a statement saying the flag had been given to him as a gift and to him, it represented a way to honor the commitment he made as a first responder to protect the community. Chedester said that now he understands the flag represents something that was traumatic to some members of the community who tuned into the Community Conversation.
“I sincerely did not have any intent to suggest that police lives matter more than Black lives nor was I intentionally trying to cause any harm or offense,” Chedester said in his statement. “I apologize for how this has damaged the trust I have worked to build with the community. I am committed to rebuilding that trust beginning today. I am taking the flag down from my office wall.”
Chedester also said that as a leader of WVU’s campus, he will be more conscientious, intentional and thoughtful.
View Chedester’s full statement here.