Chester City, Pennsylvania Firefighter James Krapf is getting quite a bit of publicity about his refusal to remove an American flag sticker from his locker. He was suspended for a second day after refusing to follow the directive from Fire Commissioner James Johnson to remove the flag.
Now the firefighter whose locker art brought the order to remove all decorations has started wearing a hat with a flag patch stitched upside-down. The flag is normally only flown in that fashion to symbol distress, but it has also been used as a form of protest. Here are excerpts from Joelle Farrell’s latest article at Philly.com.
Over the summer, Chester Fire Commissioner James Johnson banned all decorations on locker doors after firefighters argued over the posting of a cartoon at Fire Station No. 2 that some found offensive. Robert Butler, a black firefighter who posted the cartoon on his locker as a protest, was suspended without pay for a day when he replaced the cartoon with a sign that read, “Black man has no free speech.”
The directive to clear the lockers took effect Aug. 29 but was not enforced until last week. Firefighter James Krapf was suspended without pay Thursday and Friday after he refused to remove the flag decal from his locker. He is scheduled to meet with Johnson tomorrow.
Butler wore a knit cap with an upside-down flag yesterday. He said he was not protesting the federal government but wore it “as the common meaning” of distress.
Firefighters who complained to the commissioner were told that no departmental rule barred Butler from wearing the flag upside down, said Stacy Landrum, president of the Chester firefighters union.