Since 2013, amidst a wave of high-profile cases of police brutality and the rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, law enforcement agencies worldwide have come under heightened scrutiny to confront issues of racial discrimination within their own ranks. In 2014, the deaths of two NYPD officers fuelled the emergence of a counter-movement, Blue Lives Matter.
Blue Lives Matter is intertwined with the Thin Blue Line movement (TBL). The TBL describes the idea of law enforcement being a moral force or protective barrier maintaining order and safeguarding society from descending into chaos. However, since 2015, the TBL emblem has been appropriated by a small number of far-right actors. The significant shift occurred in 2017 during the Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the TBL symbol became directly associated with larger extremist movements such as the Nationalist Front, the Traditionalist Worker Party, the American Guard, and others.
During our investigation, we examined TBL websites in approximately fifteen European countries. Most of these sites depict police officers as heroes and promote a ‘warrior myth’. However, not all of the websites share the same degree of violence, far-right symbolism, or what should constitute the idea of ‘supporting’ law enforcement officers.