According to New York’s NBC affiliate, residents learned of the horrible spectacle after photos surfaced showing the department's fire engine with a confederate flag hanging on its side. The flag was put on the truck for a drive-by honoring a former fire chief who is now battling cancer.
"The unauthorized action was done without the knowledge of our leadership team and is condemned in the strongest of terms," Peter Di Pinto Jr., chief of the Brookhaven Fire Department, said in a statement. "We can assure our community that 'Racism has no home in our Firehouse.'"
The incident reportedly involved a single firefighter, who acted on his own when placing the flag. The fire department and the town board are investigating the incident.
"Brookhaven Town has been built upon a history of inclusion and diversity," town supervisor Ed Romaine and the town board said in a statement. "Our cemeteries contain the graves of men who gave their lives fighting against this flag. This flag is a symbol of hatred, and there is no place for it, or the racism it displays, in our town."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also condemned the incident. "While one incident or individual is not reflective of an entire Fire Department, it is a reminder that we still have more work to do to eradicate hate and bigotry on Long Island," he wrote in a series of tweets.
Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined in blasting the firefighter, stating that he was "appalled" by the move and will be directing the state's Division of Human Rights to investigate. It’s unclear why all these resources need to be used to fire one person, but I digress.