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Rhode Island firefighters were told that flying the American flag on their trucks made them look like terrorists.
A fight over the flag has caused problems at the Central Coventry Fire Department as officials and firefighters clash over whether displaying Old Glory on fire department vehicles is appropriate.
A local official told firefighters last year to take down the flags, which he compared to ISIS flying black flags from vehicles as they ride through Syria, NBC 10 News reported.
“They look like a bunch of yahoos,” said Fred Gralinski, chairman of the Central Coventry Fire District at a board meeting.
“Like in the paper, like ISIS in Syria going to take over a city. I don’t think they need that big flag on the back of the truck. That’s not America to me. Those are a bunch of terrorists. So, I’m going to ask you to please take the flag off that truck.”
Firefighters union president, David Gorman told NBC 10 that members were “very upset” over the remarks. “It’s America to us,” he said.
Gralinski is now apologizing and said, through a spokesman, that he chose his words poorly. He clarified that firefighters were not being asked to remove the flags and patriotic stickers.
But a new policy put into effect last week requires board approval before any patriotic symbols are placed on trucks, Gregg Perry, a spokesman for the district told NBC 10, adding that a flag-flying protocol was being checked with the military.
Gorman countered, saying that he and firefighters are still being asked in private to remove the items from trucks.
The dispute between the union and management has led to a halt in contract negotiations, NBC 10 reported.
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Video from NBC 10 News via Vidmax.
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