Chicago Investigating Firefighters Who Removed BLM Banner

A complaint on social media about a fire truck stopping and removing a Black Lives Matter banner has prompted an investigation by the Chicago Fire Department. The complaint was posted Saturday on Nextdoor by Dr. Adele Cobbs.

Dr. Cobbs stated that she witnessed a firefighter exit a stopped apparatus and remove the BLM banner from a chain link fence at about 11 am on Saturday. Her post contained a photo of the company, which indicated it was Truck 15. Dr. Cobbs claims she asked the firefighters “Why?”, and the reply was an aggressive blast of the air horns.

The post on Nextdoor included Dr. Cobbs’ comment: “Unbelievable. They are paid to serve our community and this is what they think about Black lives.” The Chicago Fire Department became aware of the post, and spokesman Larry Langford confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that the department was investigating the incident.

Dr. Cobbs was quoted as saying:

  • I’ve seen that banner. It’s in a discreet place that was bothering no one.
  • The fact that they would do something so petty and so disgraceful.
  • Why would they take that little piece away?

Langford, Director of Media Affairs for Chicago Fire, issued a statement that included:

  • The conduct described in the allegation will not be tolerated by the Chicago Fire Department.
  • The CFD strives to serve every neighborhood with equal response and concern.
  • We have no tolerance for any conduct that demeans any of our residents and visitors, all of whom we have taken a sworn oath to serve.
  • I assure you we will rapidly get to the bottom of this and if found to be accurate, discipline and corrective action will be swift and just.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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