Fire chief claimed stickers might be racially insensitive

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Image Credits: CBS Chicago

Days prior to the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, several firefighters from a Chicago suburb were suspended after refusing to adhere to a controversial mandate issued by the station’s fire chief.

On Tuesday, four Maywood firefighters revealed they had been suspended for displaying patriotic stickers on their helmets and lockers.

The first responders told Chicago’s WGN it all started when they decided to replace an old flag inside the fire station with a newer one. When the chief removed that flag without explanation, the firefighters began posting flag stickers on their gear.

Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh defended his mandate by claiming the stickers could somehow be misconstrued as “racist,” and specifically pointed to a picture on a locker of a monkey smoking a cigarette.

“As a fire chief here, I cannot afford nor tolerate,” Bronaugh asserted, and he subsequently issued a memo officially banning stickers.

“It feels wrong,” Staff Sgt. Jesus Aguire said. “I was offended that they would want me to do something like that.”

The suspended firefighters were of mixed races, one was black, another Cuban and the other two white. The firefighter responsible for the monkey stickerargued that it was an inside joke aimed at encouraging a co-worker to quit smoking, and claimed the sticker had been up for ten years. Additionally, the “offensive” monkey sticker had already been removed.

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‘Racist’ monkey picture which spurred fire chief’s actions. / Image credit: CBS Chicago

I’m floored that he would even consider this two days before 9/11,” firefighter Dan McDowell told NBC Chicago. “It’s ridiculous.”

A former marine, whose father had served in the same fire department for 26 years and whose locker he had inherited, was among those suspended after he refused to remove his father’s Marine Corps decal sticker.

“We are the first African-American father and son on the Maywood Fire Department,” firefighter Dave Flowers told NBC. “It has sentimental value.”

Written by ADAN SALAZAR
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