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FDNY Ladder Company 11 Faces Backlash Over 9/11 ‘Thin Red Line’ Flag Labeled a ‘Fascist Symbol’

The New York City Fire Department directed firefighters from an East Village ladder company to remove a flag commemorating those lost in the 9/11 attacks, following complaints that it is a fascist symbol. 

The controversy began on March 22, when an individual, reportedly affiliated with Councilwoman Carlina Rivera’s office, approached the firehouse and criticized the display of the “thin red line” flag.

Credits: DepositPhotos

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The “thin red line” flag, a variant of the American flag with a red stripe symbolizing the bravery and sacrifice of firefighters, was compared to the “thin blue line” flag of police solidarity. 

This latter symbol has become a point of contention in political and racial discussions, especially after the protests of 2020.

Ladder Company 11 proudly displayed this flag alongside a tribute to six of its members who perished in the 9/11 attacks. 

Credits: DepositPhotos

However, following a complaint voiced by a purported staffer of Rivera, and an email from another staff member questioning the flag’s appropriateness on a public vehicle, FDNY officials felt compelled to act. 

Citing a departmental ban on altered American flags instituted amid the anti-law enforcement protests of 2020, Deputy Chief Joseph Schiralli delivered the message that the flag had to be removed.

Credits: DepositPhotos

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The decision was met with dismay among the firefighters, who saw the flag as a significant tribute to their fallen brothers.

However, Commissioner Laura Kavanagh later quickly allowed the flag to be reinstated.

Councilwoman Rivera clarified that her office had not directly requested the flag’s removal, emphasizing that the complaint originated from a constituent. 

Credits: DepositPhotos

Despite her progressive stance and previous criticisms of law enforcement practices, Rivera affirmed her strong relationship with Ladder Company 11.

The episode has sparked a broader discussion about the symbols used to honor public servants and the political interpretations attached to them, underscoring the tensions between commemorating sacrifice and navigating the complexities of political symbolism.

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