Controversial flag causes stir at Penguins ceremony for Pittsburgh shooting victims

The Penguins took to their home ice Tuesday for the first time since a gunman walked into the Tree Of Life Synagogue in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill and opened fire, killing 11 people.

An outpouring of support has flooded the city since Saturday’s tragic attack, and the Penguins used their first game at PPG Paints Arena in the aftermath to honour the victims with a special, lengthy ceremony.

It started with three members from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh joining the players on the ice, before an 11-second moment of silence was held in memory of the 11 who lost their lives.

An emotional performance of the US National Anthem followed, with a good chunk of the crowd singing along as Jeff Jimerson belted out the Star-Spangled Banner.

Then, a ceremonial puck drop featuring Pittsburgh police Chief Scott Schubert, along with two of the heroic officers injured in the attack, Anthony Burke and Mike Smigda. But the events, unfortunately, weren’t without controversy. 

As some on social media quickly pointed out, Chief Shubert was proudly displaying a “Blue Lives Matter” flag during the face-off — a symbol that is widely seen as law enforcement’s insulting countermovement to the Black Lives Matter campaign, which aims to end systemic racism and violence against the African-American community.

The conclusion to what had otherwise been a heartfelt tribute to the victims of a terrible tragedy began to draw the ire of many on social media, and a moment that was meant to honor the city of Pittsburgh was quickly clouded in controversy.

Related: Steelers honor shooting victims: 

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Pittsburgh Steelers, fans honor victims of synagogue shooting
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Pittsburgh Steelers, fans honor victims of synagogue shooting
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 28: A fan holds up a sign to honor the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue during the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on October 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers fans sit behind a banner with a Star of David beside their Steelers blanket as they watch the teams warm up before an NFL football game between the Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. There was a deadly shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
A Pittsburgh Steelers logo with one of the hypocycloids changed to a Star of David is on a banner at Heinz Field for an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers added the logo in respect for the victims of a deadly shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Fans stand above a banner with a Pittsburgh Steelers logo that has one of the hypocycloids changed to a Star of David at Heinz Field for an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers added the logo in respect for the victims of a deadly shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A Pittsburgh Steelers logo with one of the hypocycloids changed to a Star of David is on a banner at Heinz Field for an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers added the logo in respect for the victims of a deadly shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Oct 28, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Fans hold signs at Heinz field to honor the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue before the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers fans bow their head for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue before the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers players bow their head for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The scoreboard is blank during a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Tree of Life Synagog shooting prior to the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; A sign in honor of the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting at Heinz Field before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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