Fury as FDNY firefighters are forced to remove Stars and Stripes honoring 9/11 heroes after Democrat lawmaker branded it a ‘fascist symbol’

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • A downtown NYC fire-fighting company was told by a local councilwoman that they must remove from their truck a flag commemorating men they lost on 9/11
  • Progressive councilwoman Carlina Rivera’s office told the ladder company they had received multiple complaints about the ‘political’ flag

Authorities at the New York City Fire Department commanded a ladder company in the East Village to remove a flag honoring six of the company’s men who perished on 9/11 after a resident complained it was a ‘fascist’ symbol.

The order arrived on March 22 after a man who the New York Post reports claimed to be a staffer for progressive Manhattan Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, confronted firefighters at Ladder Company 11.

The man pulled up to the firehouse on a bike and told firefighters he works for Rivera and that the politician’s office had complained several days earlier about the flag.

The ‘thin red line’ flag, which is a black-and-white American flag with a red line across the middle, is meant to show solidarity with firefighters who have fallen or been injured on the job.

The man reportedly called the flag a ‘fascist symbol’ and asked to know why it remained up.

Lower East Side Ladder Company 11 displays its thin red line flag to honor the six men from their company who died fighting fires at the World Trade Center on 9/11

New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, whose office led the charge on requesting Ladder Company 11 remove its thin red line flag from its truck

New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, whose office led the charge on requesting Ladder Company 11 remove its thin red line flag from its truck

The ‘thin blue line’ flag, which is designed similarly to the firefighter’s version, serves a similar purpose among police officers, but has in recent years been used by the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ movement and has therefore assumed a political meaning.

The thin blue line flag is largely hailed as a sign of police solidarity, but in the wake of 2020 and even in the years leading up to it, some – mostly on the political left – have criticized it as a symbol of white supremacy. 

Ladder Company 11 displays the flag beside a memorial sign on the back of its truck that commemorates the lives and service of Lieutenant Michael Quilty and Firefighters Michael Cammarata, Edward Day, John Heffernan, Richard Kelly Jr., and Matthew Rogan – all of whom were killed while responding to the 9/11 terror attacks.

On March 19, the FDNY received an email from Lisander Rosario – a staffer for Rivera – saying a constituent had contacted the office twice to complain about the ladder company’s flag and ask if it violated any rules.

The email said that ‘political symbols aren’t permitted to be displayed on public vehicles’ and asked if there was any such symbol on the company’s truck.

‘I’m reaching out on behalf of a constituent of ours regarding a thin blue/red line flag on Ladder 11 last week (and earlier on Jan 20th). When asked about the meaning, they claimed it was to honor deceased firefighters, however he brought up that they could’ve used any FDNY flag rather than a politically charged symbol,’ read part of the note. 

After the man’s visit to the firehouse, FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Schiralli stopped by and regretfully informed the ladder company that due to a department ban on ‘altered’ versions of the American flag being flown, theirs would have to come down.

One of the firefighters told the Post Schiralli agreed it was ‘ridiculous’ that they were being forced to remove the flag that commemorated their fallen brothers. 

The rule dates back to 2020 when, during the height of the anti-law enforcement protests, then-Commissioner Daniel Nigro implemented the rule.

Richard Kelley Jr., 50

John Heffernan, 37

Lieutenant Michael Quilty, 42

The flag displayed on Ladder Company 11’s Lower East Side-based firetruck is flown beside a placard commemorating six of the company’s firemen who were killed on 9/11

Michael Cammarata, 22

Matthew Rogan, 37

Edward Day, 45

‘This flag has huge significance for us,’ said one of the firefighters in the aftermath of the councilwoman’s request that they remove it

Several hours later, now-Commissioner Laura Kavanagh reversed the decision and allowed the flag back on the truck – though the damage has been done.

One of the company’s firefighters said: ‘We’re happy with the outcome of this – but we’re offended it happened in the first place.

‘This flag has huge significance for us.’

‘I wish [Rivera’s office] would have come at it like “Hey, we want to learn about the flag and what it represents” before they asked for it to be taken down,’ said another fireman.

The councilwoman insisted that her office never contacted Ladder Company 11 about the flag, and that the initial complaint was from a constituent, not her staffer.

‘My relationship with Ladder 11 has always been strong,’ she told the outlet.

Rivera, a progressive NYC politician and former official member of the Democratic Socialists of America, voted with her colleagues in 2020 to strip the NYPD of $1billion in funding.

During the 2020 riots and protests that occurred in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Rivera regularly criticized the police force. 

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