It is common to find a flag similar to the traditional national flag of the United States, albeit with slightly different colors. Instead of a red, white, and blue flag, though, the colors are monochromatic, only featuring black and white. A single stripe toward the bottom third of the flag will often be represented in a different color, such as red, yellow, or blue. This version of the American flag is used to represent solidarity with the public services such as police officers and firefighters. It can also be used to preserve and honor the memory of those who have been killed while performing public duties.
The black and white American flag with a red stripe is not an official flag, so any person or organization can use it. Many people will choose to fly this flag at their personal residences to show support for the various services. Because it is not an official flag, many police departments and fire departments will have specific policies prohibiting the use of unofficial flags in place of the national flag for the United States.
The black and white American flag with a thin red stripe represents firefighters. The red stripe flag has seen overwhelming support in the firefighter community, with 88% of firefighters and their departments supporting and approving the use of this flag.
Many other black and white American flag variations exist, and each variation has a special meaning. This flag variation usually represents the public service industry and is a nod or a sign of support for those working as first responders. A gray stripe is meant to represent correction officers, a yellow stripe represents dispatchers, a white stripe (on a gray and black American flag) represents the EMS departments, and a blue stripe is meant to represent police departments.
In recent years, the black and white American flag with a blue stripe has been used as a political statement, and much of its use was centered around the Black Rights Matter movement. In response, many police departments and their supporters have responded with a Blue Rights Matter movement and have used the black and white American flag with a blue stripe as their emblem. Because there is so much political debate surrounding this flag and the various movements, many police departments have banned its use to prevent making a political statement.