Is San Jose Clerk’s Office Email the Right Place for the Incendiary Blue Flag?

The thin blue line has found its way to San Jose—brazenly displayed in a city employee’s official email signature.

Barbara Gregory is an Analyst II, working in San Jose's Office of the City Clerk preparing analyses, slides and reports with recommendations to city officials, earning a salary of $94,787 in 2019, according to OpenPayrolls.

Gregory’s flag logo was first published in public documents in December 2020, but the Fly’s spies confirmed it was still in her email signature by June 11.

While some view the flag and “Blue Lives Matter” movement as support for law enforcement, others say it’s morphed into a symbol of white supremacy that evokes fear and mistrust, especially after the modified American flag was visible at the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building.

Ironically, the flag is six lines above a customer service survey collecting concerns and experiences with specific staff by name, including Gregory. She declined to comment on the record for this story.

The thin blue line has gotten several local governments in trouble before.

A county in Oregon shelled out $100,000 after a Black employee filed a lawsuit over a flag hung in an office, arguing it dilutes and demeans the Black Lives Matter movement, comparing racial identities to chosen professions. The University of Wisconsin-Madison's police chief banned officers from using any form of the imagery—flags, pins, decals—because it was "co-opted" by extremists with "hateful ideologies.” A Minneapolis suburb issued an apology after the flag was flown at City Hall in recognition of National Police Week in May.

San Jose’s employee email policies ban “anything that may be construed as harassment or disparagement of others,” based on identifiers like race, color, and political beliefs. Employees must also have values that “honor diverse views and backgrounds” and “foster teamwork.”

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The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

12 Comments

  1. There was a time in America when the punk inclinations that come natural to some would be targeted for correction by parents, siblings, and, when necessary, neighbor kids. The effect of this cultural convention was that punk behavior seldom persisted past adolescence, sparing adults the annoyance of having to share their world with that particular form of hemorrhoid.

    Things have, obviously changed, to the detriment of all except, apparently, journalism schools.

  2. Maybe the “Fly” could indulge us and provide its salary as well, you know, out of equity and fairness.

  3. City employees should leave personal statements such as this flag out of official correspondence. Everyone has the right to expect non-political speech from the government and their representatives. Where is the supervision in this issue?

  4. Any commercialization of the US flag is wrong. Police and fire need to stop using this twisted flag for their own selfish gain.

  5. Commercialization: The process of managing or running something principally for financial gain.

    I think Ted needs to find another word.

  6. This article is old, but still a true teachable moment.

    1. This is not news, but a warped kind of editorial. Shame.

    2. The blue flag is not incendiary to normal, healthy people.

  7. Over a thousand words in response and not one example of a loss of freedom under an administration you describe as fascist. Hardly a surprise, as there is no rational defense to be found for a delusion that, unfortunately, you share with millions of other deranged souls.

  8. “a forthcoming book by journalist Michael Wolff says.”

    This is the same “journalist” who fabricated the story of the three-count indictment of Trump by Robert Mueller, just one of many such fabrications in his earlier book on Trump. The indictment never existed but the TDR herd mooed its approval and stampeded the book stores, as they will do once again.

    Thanks for the fresh cow pie, Steven.

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