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Michael Majchrowicz
By Michael Majchrowicz June 25, 2021

No, the black and white flag for police solidarity does not violate flag code

If Your Time is short

  • In accordance with the U.S. Flag Code, the black and white flag with the blue stripe in the center is not technically an official version of the American flag.

  • The black and white flag with the blue stripe — which adopts the likeness of the American flag — does not violate the U.S. Flag Code.

A Facebook post showing a side-by-side comparison of the American flag and a flag used to express support for police officers refers to the latter as a "gang symbol," and implies it violates the U.S. Flag Code.

The non-U.S. flag resembles the American flag, except it bears black and white stripes with the stars affixed to a black background. A blue stripe runs through the center. The post incorrectly cites section 176 (located in Title 36) as the portion of the code that it claims the black and white flag violates. 

"The flag should never have placed on it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture or drawing of any nature (including discoloration)," the post continued. 

The June 14 post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Peter Ansoff is president of the North American Vexillological Association, an organization that bills itself as the "world’s largest organization of flag enthusiasts and scholars." Vexillology is the study of flags.

Ansoff told PolitiFact in a phone interview that there are two key discrepancies with the post.

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The first, he said, was that the post notes the incorrect administrative citation for the actual flag code. It should be Section 8 (in Title 4). While the Flag Code used to be under Title 36, it was re-codified in 1998, according to the Congressional Research Service. The Facebook post fails to observe this change.

The second discrepancy Ansoff pointed out is that the Facebook post tacks on the words "including discoloration." Discoloration is not prohibited by the flag code, as the Facebook post claims. So as far as the code is concerned, the black and white flag with the blue stripe in the middle is not in violation.

Additionally, Ansoff told PolitiFact that the blue, white and black flag in the post is not technically an American flag. Ansoff pointed to the first section of the code which stipulated that the "the flag of the United States shall be 13 horizontal stripes, alternate red and white; and the union of the flag shall be forty-eight stars, white in a blue field." (New states have been added since then, bringing the number of stars to 50.)

"So one could argue that the so-called ‘gang symbol’ isn't really an American flag in the meaning of the code itself," he said. "It looks a little bit like it, but it's not an American flag as far as the flag code is concerned."

Our ruling

A Facebook post claims that the flag expressing support for police officers violates the U.S. Flag Code.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, the black and white flag with the blue stripe in the center is not an official version of the American flag. The post suggests that the police support flag includes discoloration. "Discoloration" is not listed in the flag code as a violation. To make its point about a purported code violation, the post also uses an incorrect administrative citation.

We rate this claim False.

 

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No, the black and white flag for police solidarity does not violate flag code

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