Rokita Again…

A week or so ago, a reader sent me a private message about a “thin blue line” flag he’d seen displayed in a window of the Indiana Statehouse. It concerned him, because he was aware that the flag was associated with the White Supremacy movement.

I was totally unaware of the flag’s message or existence, so I consulted Google.

According to Wikipedia, “The thin blue line US flag has appeared regularly at Trump rallies. The flag, which ostensibly stands for solidarity with the police, appeared as well at the January 6 United States Capitol attack, during which police officers were beaten and attacked by the mob of Trump supporters and far right extremists.”

Police departments in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles, California have banned police display of the flag because of its associations with views described as “undemocratic, racist, and bigoted.”

According to the Los Angeles Times,

For some, the “thin blue line” flag is an expression of solidarity with police officers who have lost their lives on the job.

To others, the black-and-white American flag with a single blue stripe is a potent symbol of the ties between right-wing extremism and American law enforcement.

The tension between those irreconcilable interpretations spilled over in the Los Angeles Police Department this month, when Chief Michel Moore ordered the flag, which was widely displayed in station lobbies around the city, to be removed from public view….

In a department-wide email, Moore said the flag’s original meaning of support for police had been overshadowed when it began appearing at rallies for the Proud Boys and other far-right extremist groups.

“It’s unfortunate that extremist groups have hijacked the use of the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ to symbolize their undemocratic, racist, and bigoted views. Flags serve as powerful symbols with specific meanings,” he wrote, adding that officers would still be allowed to display the flag in their personal work spaces, lockers and personal vehicles

My correspondent’s knowledge of the contested meaning of the flag led him to do some further digging; after attending a downtown meeting, he visited the Statehouse in an effort to determine just whose office was responsible for the display. He learned that–as you have probably guessed from the title of this post– the office was that of Indiana’s Attorney General, Todd Rokita.

That would be the same Todd Rokita who has consistently pandered to the GOP’s extreme Right, the Todd Rokita who has enthusiastically repeated his endorsement of indicted former President Trump, and thrown the weight of his office behind anti-abortion extremists– the same Todd Rokita who has now been charged by an Indiana judicial watchdog with violating professional conduct rules while conducting his unhinged vendetta against the Indiana University doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.

The complaint against Rokita was filed by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission–not by a partisan political body. (Rokita is currently paying the  outside lawyers defending him against those charges with our tax dollars.)

Is it possible that Rokita was unaware that the “blue lives matter” flag had been hijacked by White Supremacists? Sure. (Rokita isn’t known for doing meticulous research.) But even giving him the benefit of that doubt, display of the flag is problematic. It originated in response to the multiple demonstrations organized by Black Lives Matter following the murder of George Floyd, and even at the beginning was widely seen as a criticism of Black activism and support for “active” policing tactics.

Purposeful display of that flag thus sends a message to Black Hoosiers about the loyalties of their state’s Attorney General, who is supposed to serve the interests of all of the citizens of Indiana without favoritism or bias.

The office is supposed to represent the state in cases involving the state’s interest, provide legal defense to state officials or agencies in court, and provide formal advisory opinions on constitutional or legal questions to state officials. 

Rokita has used it to wage culture war.

He regularly joins with other Republican AGs in national, highly partisan cases that do not involve Indiana, and he is currently fighting to keep an ethics opinion involving his own “side” employment secret. His persistent, unwarranted attacks against the doctor who aborted a ten-year-old who’d been viciously raped–a doctor who’d followed all applicable laws–is beyond disgusting.

Given what we know of Rokita and his ambitions, I’d be willing to bet that he knew about the White Nationalist associations of that flag, but even if he didn’t, its display is a highly inappropriate signal of where his partialities lie.

I don’t know who the Democrats will run against him, but that person already has my vote–and deserves yours. Rokita needs to go.


  1. Is there anything this individual could do that would turn his base against him? It seems anyone with a pulse and an R next to their name gets the vote in Indiana.

  2. Nicely done Professor. Very even-handed reporting about the meanings of the flag. In my opinion it should not be displayed at the State Capitol Building. Thank you.

  3. Let’s all email the attorney general and request he remove the flag. It’s impossible to find his direct email but you can send a message via the web site

  4. Don’t forget the “boogaloo” movement where members show up in tactical gear and Hawaiian shirts, (and Pepe the frog as a mascot). Hard to be a parrot head today knowing you might be confused with a soldier of a hate movement.

  5. Wont There will always be the misappropriation of a flag at radical right wing meetings?. Does that mean every flag they use changes its meaning? The office of AG is to represent law and order, its something that if not established soon will create the continual march of the desert of business in minority communities.
    We are facing a lack of an ability to recruit officers, in LA for example there are complaints of lower educated individuals entering the force, complaints made by recruiters and police trainers specifically, not just the public.
    As a union member I vote for and see each issue pertains to how it effects the working world in which we live. Doesnt Telling Rokita to remove the flag further dismantles the recruiting opportunities just fir the sake of a political stance?

  6. I will note that the American flag was also flown by the rioters on Jan. 6th. Shall we get rid of it too?
    This is much ado about nothing. I say let everyone be allowed to have their own symbol; that way we know who and what they are.

  7. Theresa: The rioters on 1/6 were not elected and certainly did not reflect the will of the people. If we are going to use whataboutism to anchor policy, let’s at least argue from the same platform.

  8. Rokitas’s shenanigans are hard to keep up with! He is a pathetic example for our state, government, ethics, intellect, humanity, professionalism, republicans, democracy, the legal profession…

  9. Theresa, People latch onto symbols. It’s the visual equivalent of the sound bite. We all know exactly what it means when somebody shouts, “Woke”, “Way to Go Brandon”, “What about the emails”, “Hunter Biden’s Laptop”.

    We also know how the right has used the word “Freedom” to sell so many twisted ideas. Using that word immediately and superficially confers some legitimacy. Using the American flag at an anti-democratic coup attempt is the same idea, superficial legitimacy. Freedom, and the American Flag still have the same clear meaning. A swastika and now a thin blue line flag have no place in American democracy.

  10. Gerald: It appears that perhaps Mr. Rokita, an elected official, might in fact reflect the will of the people who elected him. The symbol he displays in his office window is his right. Just as it was the right of some City County Council members, at a public meeting back in the Pence days, to wear patches on their lapels symbolizing victims of the Holocaust. Just as it is the right of a neighbor of mine to occasionally puts up the Nazi flag. That display of political persuasion is like a warning to one and all not to mess with the guy and good to know.
    Symbols are important, and have been protected as free speech for decades. And they let you know who and what you are dealing with. And that is a good thing.

  11. There’s nothing in the Flag Code to prevent or discourage the use of the thin blue line flag, but it’s not an appropriate display for an elected official, in public view. IMHO this is the least of Rokita’s sins.

  12. Try:

    That’s who sends out his newsletter, where he gets to gloat about all his gloryful ambitions as ATG. It generally goes into my trash without reading it.

    As for the flag’s meaning, Bard confirmed what Sheila found:

    “However, the thin blue line flag has also been associated with far-right and white supremacist groups. These groups have used the flag to symbolize their opposition to social justice movements and their support for police brutality.”

    Please note that the flag “supports police brutality.” WOW!!

    The flag needs to come down ASAP.

  13. Yet another sign of a failing society. We seem to revel in eating ourselves. A flag. For F’s sake!

    OF COURSE this turkey Rokita knows what it means. OF COURSE he supports right-wing lip strummers. OF COURSE he will be re-elected – it’s what Redneck Nation voters do. That said, Texas still takes the proverbial cake for corrupt, evil and really, really stupid AGs with the coddling of the egregious Ken Paxton.

    Maybe Rokita sees Paxton as a role model and is trying his best to emulate that sort of slime.

  14. Regardless of AG Rokita’s knowledge of and/or motivation for displaying this flag/symbol that carries multiple meanings, it has no place in a governmental office whose principal occupant’s salary is paid for with taxpayer dollars.
    Being an unabashed supporter of an indicted former President whose mantra has been “alternative facts,” truth from this state government official has become a casualty in his leadership of that organization. “Alternative facts” is simply a code term for “lies.” Where truth becomes expendable in exchange for obtaining political power, its proponents merely live in a fantasy world where there is no objective meaning to anything that they say.
    Such is the sad state of affairs in our current AG’s office.

  15. I’d draw a clear line between what a person can display at home and work. I suspect the State and Attorney General’s Office have a policy but opt not to apply it for ‘special’ people.

  16. I am the first to agree that Rokita is trash fire swamp creature. But, I think the thin blue line flag isn’t, at this point, universally seen as a symbol of white supremacy/police brutality. It’s certainly a way to promote your conservative bona fides, but If Rokita was flying that “don’t tread on me” one – THAT one has been fully taken over by the lunatic fringe.

    Don’t get me wrong, he probably is pro “active policing” and all that. But I very much doubt he is flying the blue line in an effort to communicate the worst possible meaning of it. He’s a (not very talented) social climber and he’s in Indiana. I would argue that flag’s presence on any given car/truck/house/etc. isn’t a massive warning sign quite yet.

  17. “When a Clown moves into a Palace, he doesn’t become a King. The Palace instead becomes a Circus.” A Turkish proverb

    I consider this saying appropriate. I’m tired of the circus and their theatre.

  18. I was in law enforcement 35 years and my cousins were also in Lake County. The thin blue line has been used by right wingers in recent years as in the case of Rokita. Lets not lump good, honest and hard working cops with a wacko like Rokita!!

  19. Belief is in the eye of the beholder. I have looked up a number of the strange versions of the American flag; some good, some bad, some with no connection to politics. Elected officials are elected to work for all people so it would be highly questionable for them to display flags or signs regarding their personal choices. Voters and non-voters alike as well as those with strong party choices are all paying the taxes which pay elected official’s salaries.

  20. Apparently the flag has been removed from the window. Maybe today’s post has made a difference!

  21. I hope you are right James Todd. Only flags for the USA and Indiana should be allowed on state property.

  22. I will not weigh in on the debate here about whether a symbol design to express support for one thing (the police) should be banned due to its being hi-jacked by the Right for a different purpose (to express White supremacy). Still, I offer this perspective. The small, thin-blue line flag on the bumper of my beater is there bc the Central Indiana Police Foundation sent it to me after I committed to a small monthly donation targeted to the family of Officer Briana Leathe, whose tragic murder during a domesic violence response call left her two-year old without a mom. Leathe happened to be an African-American rookie, so I assumed her son was not inheriting much wealth and that whatever survivor benefits he was due were minimal or non-existent. Although some may find this TBL flag offensive, I am not going to remove it from my car, nor will I remove the sticker received from another organization I support, Faith in Indiana, which supports social justice, including efforts to end police brutality against and targeting of Black communities. As a retired teacher, the TBL flag sticker reminds me to be respectful and grateful for those who still serve the public in these hellish times. Most police officers, healthcare workers, educators, and other employees of government and non-profit entities work long, sometimes dangerous shifts for low pay. They are spit upon, shot at, cursed out, micro-managed and otherwise jerked around by the public and their own managers. It is a wonder there is anyone left to do these jobs. I hope I don’t get shot by someone behind me at a stoplight who assumes I’m hater bc of my stickers.

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