Firefighters in Coventry, Rhode Island, are upset after they say they were ordered to remove American flags and decals from their fire trucks.
The controversy began in 2015 when Central Coventry Fire District Chairman Fred Gralinski reportedly compared the use of the American flag on fire trucks to the vehicles ISIS radical use. The comments were made at a board meeting, according to WJAR.
"They look like a bunch of yahoos," Gralinski said. "Like in the paper, like ISIS in Syria going to take over a city. I don't think they need that big flag on the back of the truck. That's not America to me. Those are a bunch of terrorists. So, I'm going to ask you to take the flag off the truck."
Firefighters Union President David Gorman said the firefighters union found Gralinski's comments deeply offensive.
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"The [union] members are very upset. I have a couple members, armed service retired, retired from the guard," he told WJAR.
Gralinski apologized May 26 for the ISIS comparison. However, he also denied that the firefighters were being forced to remove the flags and decals.
Fire district spokesman Gregg Perry clarified the policy.
"All that has to happen is for someone that wants to put a sticker or decal on the first truck to go to the board and ask for permission," he stated, adding that they plan to consult the military on the protocol for displaying the flag.
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Nevertheless, Gorman maintains that his firefighters are still being asked to take down the flag, according to WJAR. He said the official statements contradict what is being said behind closed doors.
The issue was aggravated further when, shortly after Gralinski's apology, Ryan and Brett Gralinski, who are believed to be his sons, took to Facebook to defend their father's comments.
"The firemen are terrorists," Ryan wrote, according to Coventry Patch.
"F--- the flag and f--- you," Brett wrote. "You're pathetic."
The incident has led many people to call on Gralinski to resign from his position as Chairman.