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 neighbourhood 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 brave and 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 noted, Chief Shubert was proudly displaying a “Blue Lives Matter” flag during the face-off — a symbol that is viewed by some as an insensitive “countermovement” to the Black Lives Matter campaign meant to shed a light on racial injustice.

While many others point out that the flag has a long-standing history as a symbol to honour and remember law enforcement officers and first responders who have been permanently injured or killed on the job.

Whichever way you see it, the conclusion to what had otherwise been a heartfelt tribute to the victims of a terrible tragedy and a moment that was meant to honour the city of Pittsburgh was clouded in more controversy than it should have been.