Who Is Carlina Rivera? FDNY Firefighters Forced to Remove Flag Honoring 9/11 Heroes after Democrat Lawmaker Brands It 'Fascist Symbol'

Following the backlash, Commissioner Kavanagh and Chief of Department John Hodgens swiftly reversed the decision hours later, permitting the flag to be reinstated on the truck.

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Authorities at the New York Fire Department ordered an East Village ladder company to take down its "red line" American flag, which paid tribute to the six firefighters from the squad who died on 9/11 after a resident in the neighborhood labeled it as "fascist," and a local politician raised the question whether it was a "politically charged symbol."

The shocking order was issued on March 22 following a confrontation between firefighters at Ladder Co. 11 and a man who identified himself as a staffer for Democratic Manhattan Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, according to sources. The man pulled up to the firehouse on a bicycle and gave the extremely shocking news.

Order for Removal

Carlina Rivera
Carlina Rivera Facebook

The man told the firefighters that he worked for Rivera and that the politician's office had complained about the flag several days earlier. The "thin red line" flag, which is a black-and-white American flag with a red line running through the middle, is intended to show solidarity with firefighters who have lost their lives or sustained injuries in the line of duty.

According to sources, he called it a "fascist symbol" and insisted on knowing why it was still displayed.

"[FDNY staff] claimed it was to honor deceased firefighters, however, [the constituent] brought up that they could've used an FDNY flag rather than a politically charged symbol," Rosario wrote.

"It is to both his and our understanding that private political symbols aren't permitted to be displayed on public vehicles."

"Can you confirm if there are any violating flags/symbols on Ladder 11?" the email, obtained by the New York Post, read.

Shortly after the "constituent" left the firehouse, FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Schiralli visited the firefighters and reluctantly told them that the flag must be removed from the fire truck.

He cited a departmental prohibition on displaying "altered" versions of the American flag, which was implemented in 2020 by then-Commissioner Daniel Nigro and then-First Deputy Commissioner Laura Kavanagh during the peak of the anti-police Black Lives Matter protests, according to sources.

Schiralli reportedly sympathized with the firefighters, acknowledging that it was "ridiculous" to have to remove the flag, one of the firefighters present recalled.

Social Media Backlash

Red line American flag
A red line America flag seen displayed on the truck by Lower East Side Ladder Company 11 to honor the heroes of 9/11 X

The order immediately sparked outrage on social media, with conservative Instagram influencer Rogan O'Handley sharing a photo of the flag and expressing disbelief: "NY firefighters were forced to take down a memorial for those that died on 9/11. What's happened to NYC?!"

Following the backlash, Commissioner Kavanagh and Chief of Department John Hodgens swiftly reversed the decision hours later, permitting the flag to be reinstated on the truck.

"We're happy with the outcome of this — but we're offended it happened in the first place," said a Ladder 11 firefighter.

"This flag has huge significance for us."

Ladder Company 11 proudly displays its red line flag alongside a memorial placard on the back of its fire truck, paying tribute to the fallen heroes: Lt. Michael Quilty and Firefighters Michael Cammarata, Edward Day, John Hefferman, Richard Kelly Jr., and Matthew Rogan.

These brave firefighters lost their lives while responding to the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.

"I wish [Rivera's office] would have come at it like 'Hey, we want to learn about the flag and what it represents' before they asked for it to be taken down,'" said another Ladder 11 fireman.

Rivera later insisted to the outlet that her office did not reach out to Ladder Co. 11 regarding the matter and clarified that the initial complaint came from a constituent, not a staffer.

Rivera explained that her office sent the email to the FDNY on March 19 asking whether the presence of "political symbols" at the ladder company only after receiving an email from the constituent questioning the legality of the flag, addressed to her staff.

"We have heard nothing further from the FDNY and have taken no additional action on this matter," said Rivera, who added she's allocated $450,000 in Council discretionary funds to improve the ladder company's firehouse.

"My relationship with Ladder 11 has always been strong."

Rivera, a former dues-paying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, cast a vote in 2020 to defund the NYPD by $1 billion. She also often slammed cops during the Black Lives Matter protests that same year.