Tags: Maywood | firefighters | flag stickers

Firefighters Disciplined for Displaying US Flag Decals

By    |   Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:44 PM

In a week commemorating the 9/11 attacks that elevated firefighters to the status of heroes, four firemen in a suburban Chicago fire department were sent home and threatened with further discipline for refusing to remove American flag and Marine Corps stickers from their firehouse lockers.

Craig Bronaugh, the African-American chief of the Maywood Fire Department, saying that a picture of a monkey smoking a cigarette posted on a locker showed racism, issued an order that all stickers be removed from helmets and lockers, including American flag stickers.

When the four firefighters, including the African-American local union president David Flowers, refused on Tuesday, they were sent home, Chicago's local CBS affiliate reports.

Flowers, the son of a retired Maywood firefighter and veteran, still uses his dad's old locker, bearing a USMC sticker, and told WGN, "If someone has a problem with a Marine Corps decal or Navy or anyone else, people who served, you take this to heart, and especially the American flag – that's attached to our uniform."

Bronaugh, accusing the men of being "defiant, disrespectful and insubordinate," especially took offense at the photo of the monkey, saying, "I have absolutely nothing against the American flag and absolutely nothing against veterans. This picture translates to me that there is someone in the fire department who is biased.

"As a fire chief here, I cannot afford nor tolerate" bias, he said.

"“All it would take is for a visitor from off the street who could be there for any reason, whether it's to visit the fire station or to be treated for a medical emergency, or need the fire department for whatever reason, to see these pictures and to draw the conclusion that there are racist firefighters working in this fire house,” Bronaugh told Fox News.

However, former Maywood firefighter Michael Hess told CBS, "I cut out a picture of a smoking monkey and hung it on a guy's locker that I was trying to jam up because of his smoking habit, nothing more," adding that the photo was put up 10 years ago and has been gone for two years.

Chief Bronaugh told Fox News, "It has nothing to do with the American flag. The order that I put out said nothing about the American Flag in it. It talked about all decals and stickers must come off the front of the lockers immediately so that everything is uniform."

Adam Rosen, representative from Service Employees International Union Local 73, told CBS he is “shocked” that the men were suspended during the anniversary week of the 9/11 tragedy. The union has filed a grievance with the Illinois Labor Relations Board accusing Bronaugh and Maywood of creating a "hostile work environment," ABC-TV reported.

"When you're talking about the American flag, or, as in my case a Marine Corps decal, people take pride in this. This is America. This is where we work,” Flowers told Fox News.

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Four firefighters in a suburban Chicago fire department were sent home and threatened with further discipline this week for refusing to remove American flag and Marine Corps stickers from their lockers.
Maywood, firefighters, flag stickers
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:44 PM
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