Protesters Support Man In Flag Flap
Battalion Chief Refuses To Scrape Off Flag Sticker
MyFox Philly Report
CHESTER, Pa. - About a dozen protesters are camped out in Chester, Pa., at a firehouse where a man refused to remove an American flag decal from his locker.
The rally was being held in support of Firefighter James Krapf in front of the firehouse on East Fourteenth Street.
Krapf is still not back at work after he refused to take an American flag sticker off the front of his locker.
Krapf disobeyed an order from Fire Commissioner James Johnson to clear all decorations from outside of his locker.
The battalion chief was then asked to scrape the sticker off, but he, too, has refused.
The policy was enacted in response to a cartoon on another firefighter's locker that some found offensive.
Krapf took a photo of his locker with the sticker on it at the Chester Fire Dept.'s station, and he said he doesn't understand why his supervisor wants him to take it off.
Krapf said he's patriotic and many American flags hang around the firehouse.
He said he was told displaying the sticker on the outside of the locker is a violation of department policy. Personal items can be posted inside the lockers.
The firefighters' union said 11 other firefighters were warned they should remove personal items from the outside of lockers or face similar suspensions, all without pay.
The order came after an incident over the summer, when some firefighters complained about a cartoon posted at the firehouse. They found it racially offensive.
"Our guys took it hard on 9/11 because that could be anyone of us on any given day, and they take that seriously" said union leader Stacy Landrum.
Krapf was suspended on Thursday, and so far he's the only one who has been suspended.
"I shouldn't have to remove the flag of the country I believe in. I love my country," Krapf said. "I love my job. I love helping people. I've been doing this 11 years in the City of Chester, so this is something I love to do."
Fox 29 News tried to get answers directly from the Fire Commissioner Johnson on Friday. He told a local newspaper banning all materials from locker doors was the simplest way to avoid bickering among the staff.
When Fox 29 reporter Sharon Crowley asked to talk with him, she got the run around, being repeatedly told he would be out to talk with her. Then, she was told he changed his mind and had no comment.
"Commissioner, hi. Can you tell us why you won't talk to us because we've been out here all day?" Crowley asked.
"Yes, m'am, and I appreciate that," Fire Commissioner Johnson said, as he rose from his desk during a cell phone call. "Thank you very much. We have no comment, and I think it's very rude that you barge into my office in the middle of a conversation."
Krapf said he hoped to meet with the fire commissioner and the mayor to resolve the issue, though he still wants to be able to display an American flag.