ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The chief judge of Maryland District Courts has
banned court employees from wearing face masks with the law enforcement
symbol of the “thin blue line.”
News outlets report that Chief
Judge John P. Morrissey sent an email ordering staff to cease wearing
the masks. His order Wednesday applies to bailiffs, commissioners,
constables, clerks, staff and judges across the 34 District Court sites
statewide, but does not apply to courthouse visitors. A spokeswoman for
the judiciary said no similar mandate has been given to staff at the
Circuit Courts, which handle felonies.
The “thin blue line,” a
reference to the blue of police uniforms, is a symbol worn to show
support for law enforcement, but recently it has become politically
charged and used by counterprotesters at rallies for racial justice and
the Black Lives Matter movement.
wrote that the court had been made aware of “an issue of perceived
bias” and that staff had been wearing masks and other items of clothing
with the “thin blue line.”
Morrissey took action at the request of
Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe, who asked judges in a letter
Tuesday to ban the symbols in courthouses.
understand what the judge is trying to accomplish here,” said Clyde
Boatwright, president of the statewide Fraternal Order of Police. “But
the concern we would have is, is this type of restriction for all