A fire department in a small Massachusetts city has removed flags from its trucks, which were hung in support of a fallen police officer, after a citizen complained they were offensive.
Fire trucks in the city of Hingham had flown “Thin Blue Line” flags in recent weeks in support of law enforcement officers, The Patriot Ledger reported.
The city’s first responders particularly wished to honor the memory of Sgt. Michael C. Chesna, a police officer from the neighboring community of Weymouth, who was killed in the line of duty in July 2018.
Amid nationwide anti-law enforcement sentiments, firefighters in Hingham opted to hang the flags from fire engines, which was a popular decision among firefighters and the community.
According to the city, though, one resident was not pleased by the flags.
Last week, a resident of Hingham emailed the city and requested that the fire department remove the flags.
The Hingham Board of Selectmen released a statement about the complaint:
“Last week a resident did come forward with a concern. He sent an email to the Board of Selectmen that questioned whether the ‘Thin Blue Line’ flag should be displayed on a fire truck.”
The board also shared a copy of the email complaint:
“The thin blue line flag has undoubtedly become a political symbol, most often used to counter Black Lives Matter and the fight against rampant police brutality. While Hingham is blessed with a remarkable police force and these problems may not be as relevant to our quiet little town, the symbols are still representative of issues that our country is confronting as a whole,” the offended citizen wrote.
The Hingham Board of Selectmen wrote that it supported its city’s police department, but would ask firefighters to take down the pro-police flags.
“The resident reminded us that just a month ago the Board of Selectmen had refused a request to fly the rainbow flag (also known as the gay pride flag or LGBTQ+ pride flag) on Town property,” the board wrote.
The board stated that the city’s fire chief was contacted about removing the flags from the fire engines.
The fire chief then had a conversation with the city’s police chief and another city official, and the decision was made to remove the pro-law enforcement flags.
The men and women of the Hingham Fire Department and those in the department’s union, the Local 2398, initially resisted the decision to remove flags from their vehicles.
“The flags have continued to fly with honor every day. They will have to be removed by someone other than a member of this union,” the union said on Facebook this week.
But all parties ultimately agreed Thursday to take down the flags.
The Hingham Fire Department met with officers from the Hingham Police Department and the Weymouth Police Department, and one of the flags was removed with “the highest level of respect,” according to the union.
The Weymouth Police Department will hang the flags from its headquarters, but the 2398 stated Friday that one of the flags would first be flown from fire trucks “in communities that support public safety” around the commonwealth as part of a tour before it is delivered to police in Weymouth to honor Chesna.
Chesna was killed in Weymouth in 2018 after he was attacked by a man with a rock, who then shot him 10 times with his own service weapon, the Weymouth News reported.
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