Two Brookhaven Fire Department firefighters have resigned after they were suspended for draping a Confederate flag on the side of a fire truck last weekend, sparking protests and investigations.
The fire district’s board of commissioners said it was instituting new guidelines regarding the placement of flags on fire department property following the uproar sparked by the two firefighters, whose names were not released.
“I have requested support from the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission to provide Implicit Bias Training to all of our firefighters,” Brookhaven Fire Department Chief Peter Di Pinto, who has issued an apology for the incident, said Tuesday. “Our goal is to have the training completed in the next few weeks.”
On Monday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called for the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission to probe the incident and Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the state Division of Human Rights to also investigate. Protesters also picketed outside the firehouse this week after images of the flag on the firetruck began circulating on social media.
The Confederate flag was flown by breakaway Southern states that advocated for the continuation of slavery and lost the 1861-65 U.S. Civil War. Flying the flag can be offensive to many Americans, who see it as a reminder of the enslavement of Black Americans and as a symbol of white supremacy.
Di Pinto said the firetruck was participating in a parade that drove by a terminally ill ex-fire chief’s house in Patchogue. He added that the flag “was a relic from a fire department race team that took part in race tournaments in the early 1980s.”
Elaine Gross, president of the Syosset-based nonprofit ERASE Racism, called on Di Pinto “to cure the culture that permitted this reprehensible act.”
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