Chester City, Pennsylvania Firefighter James Krapf is getting a second day of suspension for refusing to remove an American flag sticker from his locker. Fire Commissioner James Johnson is not backing down from his order that all decorations be removed from the outside of lockers. He talked to a reporter at WCAU-TV:
“We wear the American flag on our uniform…it’s flying outside that station,” he said. “It is not about the American flag or patriotism.”
For his part, Krapf said it was “a matter of pride”.
The clash over the flag started as an attempt to squash arguments in the firehouse. Johnson directed all 61 firefighters to clear the outside of the lockers this summer after a black firefighter posted a cartoon that some found offensive.
The firefighter, Robert Butler, said today that he posted the cartoon, which showed two black men and included language that could be considered racial slurs, as a protest. Butler, 48, who is black, said he feels that some white firefighters have tried to get him in trouble during his 15 years with the department.
Johnson, who is also black, removed the cartoon after another firefighter complained. Butler then posted a sign that read, “Black man has no free speech.”
Butler was suspended for a day when he refused to remove the sign. He took it down the following day.The directive, which ordered firefighters to keep the outside of lockers “free of alteration,” was announced Aug. 14 and went into effect Aug. 29. Firefighters can keep family photos and other personal items inside the lockers.