A firefighter in Eureka, CA filed a grievance with the Joint Powers Authority, the governing body of the Humboldt Bay Fire agency, after he was told to remove a “Black Lives Matter” pin from his uniform shirt even though the chief wears a “Police Lives Matter” bracelet.
Matt McFarland is a second-generation firefighter, and he wore the pin from November until March, when Chief Bill Gillespie ordered him to remove it, reported KRCR.
According to Humboldt Bay Fire’s uniform policy, one pin that is fire-service related and in good taste may be worn.
McFarland believes his pin meets that standard.
“My pin is without a doubt related to my service as a firefighter because recent political events have created an environment of heightened fear and anxiety among communities of color, and increased distrust of law enforcement. This sentiment is highly detrimental to our ability, as emergency responders, to do our jobs well,” McFarland said.
McFarland’s attorney said in a statement that banning the pin creates a “significant liability” for the department because “it constitutes unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.”
A hearing at Eureka City Hall on Wednesday ended with McFarland being told he is not allowed to wear the BLM pin on his uniform.
The Root reported that Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills saw McFarland wearing the pin on his uniform and felt it was against the Humboldt Bay Fire uniform code, so he reported it to the deputy fire chief. Fire Chief Bill Gillespie agreed with Mills and told McFarland to remove the pin, saying it violated HBF uniform codes that state any pins worn on a uniform cannot be political and must be in good taste.
“We work to stay neutral,” Chief Gillespie said. “We don’t take a side or a stance on any kind of a movement because while it may support some members of the community, it may offend or put off other members of the community.”
The chief’s hypocrisy is evident here because Gillespie wears a ‘Police Lives Matter’ bracelet with his uniform while on duty.
Mills claims ‘Police Lives Matter’ is not a political movement. He also suggests it is OK because he is the chief.
“It was on my wrist and it was approved because I have the authority to approve that for our officers,” Chief Mills said.
Mills also argued that Black Lives Matter claims to be a political movement on their website, and they receive financial support from political agencies.
So basically, this fire chief is saying it is OK for the firefighters to support police lives, but not black lives. He does not even seem to realize his hypocrisy.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)