Police States of America

I’m going to do something a little different this week. Instead of a state flag, let’s see if we can fix another flag that’s getting a lot of attention lately: the Police States of America flag.

This flag is often referred to as the “Thin Blue Line” flag (even though the line isn’t very thin). It symbolizes the role they see for the police: as a “line of defense” between Bad People and Good People. But that’s a rather simplistic and dangerous way to view policing. The police are supposed to protect everyone. That even includes people accused of crimes, because due process is an absolutely fundamental principle of our government. Punishing people on the spot is vigilantism. It is literally a crime.

A better way to represent the role of the police in our society would be to take that blue and move it to the field of stars, to demonstrate that the police should stand behind the people, and try to bring us all together, not separate us.

But there’s something still troubling about this design, which is even more stark with that blue line out of the way. These black and white bars seem to reflect a rather (obviously) black-and-white view of the world, the kind of mindset that racists have about “blacks” vs. “whites”. Plus, it looks disturbingly like an old-style inmate uniform from a prison, or (if hung vertically) somewhere even worse.

So, I’ve changed the bars to something more colorful. Red is the color of life-giving blood, and an international symbol of the social nature of humanity. Red, white, and blue… for some reason that combo gives me a good feeling… I can’t put my finger on why, but it feels right.

I encourage police officers – and those who support them – to tear down and burn that divisive Police States flag they’ve been saluting, and embrace this replacement, which represents us all as the United States. #AllJobsMatter

Wisconsin

Why do they even bother? It’s a shield on a field. And an especially bad coat of arms at that, with obscure heraldry and symbolism shoved into every nook and cranny. There’s even a US shield shoved into the middle. Both the US motto, and a fucking state motto: “Forward”. Because “Reverse” hadn’t been invented yet. Who are those two men? No one cares.

Then in the 1980s, because their crappy flag looked like every other crappy shield-on-a-field flag, instead of fixing it, they added the name of the state spelled out in big letters at the top, and presumably the year it joined the union at the bottom. No one cares. At least they didn’t litter it with (guessing) 30 stars to show what order it joined in. Which no one cares about, I might add.

This flag is a reason for people who live in Wisconsin to regret that fact. I was tempted to chuck the whole fucking thing out and start from scratch, but then I noticed something. A germ of an idea that I could salvage.

Down in the lower-right of the state seal is a stacked array of little triangles, representing mineral mining (like little ingots). A couple of those can be rearranged into the icon for fast-forward. So I salvaged the fucking motto: Forward!

Why are the triangles yellow? It’s what Wisconsin is actually known for: cheese wedges.

The background colors were my own idea. I’ve been to Wisconsin a number of times, and I remember that it includes some beautiful woodlands, and it has more Great Lakes shoreline than any state except Michigan. So I symbolized those with green and blue.

Missouri

Sometimes there’s a good design hidden in a bad one.

Missouri’s flag is one of the many with a state seal crapped in the middle of it. The seal has an array of 24 stars at the top, to indicate that Missouri was the 24th state. But they circled the seal with another 24 stars, to indicate that Missouri was the 24th state. At least it isn’t on a plain field of blue, like most of the seal-on-a-sheet state flags.

The seal includes the motto “united we stand, divided we fall” which is fucking ironic, because one of the design elements of the seal is a belt buckle, which symbolizes the state joining the Union… but still being able to unbuckle (i.e. secede and join a racist slave-holding confederacy… which to be fair, it did not… but they thought about it).

The seal also features two bears, which a least are native to part of the state. No, wait, there’s a third bear in silhouette inside the crest the bears are holding. Give me a fucking… wait a minute.

If you magnify that crest inside the seal, there are a couple neat design elements: a bear on a red background (it’s supposed to represent strength and bravery), and a crescent moon on a blue background (representing the newness and potential of the state, which is obsolete but a nice idea).

I’ve extracted the crescent and bear, and made them the focus of the design, incorporating them into the red/white/blue stripes of the existing Missouri flag. These stripes are flipped from the old flag, to match the combinations from the crest, which is important because it keeps the crescent against a blue sky.

North Dakota

Simplify.

North Dakota’s flag is yet another crappy flag, created by just slapping emblems on a blue background and calling it a flag. In this case, they spelled out the name of the state (sigh), added a direct copy of the eagle from the U.S. seal, even down to the “E Pluribus Unum” motto (SIGH), and threw in thirteen stars, because… Betsy Ross (SIGH)! There almost nothing remotely original or distinctive about it.

Almost.

The solution was… simple. Remove the name. Remove the U.S. Seal and Motto. Remove all but one of the stars, and enlarge it. And enlarge the halo/crown to match. There ya go!

Colorado

Colorado’s flag is pretty good: a fairly classical stripes-of-color design with a central thingy to give it some individual character… and that thingy isn’t their damn state seal.

I almost left it alone, except for one thing. That central thingy is a C for Colorado. That violates one of my rules, which is that it’s OK for flags, to be red, but flags shouldn’t be read.

But since it’s otherwise a fairly good design, I left it alone and merely modified the central thingy into something that might not be a C, depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure what else it would be (hint: it’s Pac-Man), but that’s OK, because flags can – and should – be abstract.