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Bismarck police Star Wars meme causes social media stir

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A Facebook post by Bismarck police on the informal Star Wars Day drew some criticism, some support and some laughs.

The Bismarck Police Department is taking some flak about a Facebook post depicting two officers wearing helmets associated with characters seen as bad guys in the “Star Wars” movies.

The department says the post was all in fun, with no dark or hidden meaning. The meme depicts two officers in Imperial Stormtrooper helmets and holding nightsticks. They’re standing in front of a police car and the message “May the Force Be With You.”

May 4 is informally celebrated by fans of the “Star Wars” science fiction franchise because “May the Fourth” mimics the famous movie line “May the Force be with you.”

The catchphrase, however, is used by the Jedi Knights -- the galaxy’s peacekeepers who gain extraordinary abilities from the Force, a mysterious energy field that binds the galaxy together.

Stormtroopers are soldiers associated with the Dark Side, or evil side. Rank-and-file Stormtroopers don’t use the Force, and they’re often ridiculed for their poor shooting in the “Star Wars” movies. In some of the movies they do the bidding of Darth Vader, one of the most famous villains in science fiction and Hollywood history.

The police department’s Facebook page on Wednesday held a variety of comments on the meme. Some questioned if the department really understood it, several called it awkward, and many drew a parallel between police and violence. One commented that it was police “admitting they are out to oppress and keep you in check with violence.” Some people liked it, however -- one telling the department to “ignore the ones that have no sense of humor or joy.”

Others simply poked fun, such as comments that read, "Who’s going to tell them Storm Troopers were incompetent plebes?" and "Don't worry, they're Stormtroopers, they can't hit anything with their batons even if they wanted to."

Officer Lynn Wanner, the department’s social media manager, said she chose the meme because it was Star Wars Day and the meme had police in it. "The force" also is common slang for a police department.

“I’ve posted that same one in the past and not a word,” Wanner said, adding that she didn’t realize “people were freaking out.”

“You try to do something fun...” she said.

The department doesn’t remove posts from its Facebook page, Wanner said.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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