The Balloon Brigade, a participant in St. Louis’ annual PrideFest parade is apologizing for including a Blue Lives Matter flag on the group’s float.
The Blue Lives Matter flag, which symbolizes support for law enforcement, is a takeoff of the Black Lives Matter movement. Some critics say the flag offends groups that work for marginalized populations.
“As the co-creator/producer of the St. Louis Balloon Brigade, I wish to apologize to the members of the community that I have offended,” wrote Chad Carroll in a statement released through #Boom Media, a brigade sponsor, and posted on Facebook. “I approved a flag on our float in the Pride parade that has deeper meaning to some than I previously understood. I have been educated today.”
“We flew the Blue Lives Matter flag in honor of the lesbian daughter of one of our members,” Carroll said in his letter. “She came out relatively recently, and then became a police officer. When I was asked permission for this weeks ago I was only thinking of what a great show of love and respect for his family this was. There was absolutely no political motivation or activism intended by this display.”
Ben James, one of the judges, in a Facebook post prior to Carroll’s statement. “We at the judges tent could not see any of the flags they were flying because they were using their balloons to block our view of them. As someone who personally supports Black Lives Matter, I am disgusted to learn that this flag was hidden from us. And I am further upset that we awarded this to them; knowing now that they had this flag I wish we could take these awards away.”
One other judge said the flag was not hidden but among others representing different groups and on a float decked out with hundreds of bright balloons.
The group which raises money for an AIDS charity said the group will return two awards it won for its entry in last Sunday’s parade.