- Eric Hille displayed the pro-police flag on his fire truck hours after three Baton Rouge officers were gunned down by a mass shooter on July 17
- But he was ordered to remove it the next day by fire chief who claimed it could ‘incite violence’ against firefighters
- Chief John Hawkins warned it could also create a target for extremists
- Hille said it was ‘heartbreaking’ he wasn’t allowed to show ‘our support for our Brothers and Sisters in Blue in the event of the recent tragedies’
By HANNAH PARRY FOR DAILYMAIL.COM
California firefighters have been forced to remove a flag honoring the police officers killed in recent mass shootings over ‘extremist’ fears.
Eric Hille had displayed the pro-police flag on his fire truck and placed a ‘Thin Blue Line’ sticker on the door, just hours after three Baton Rouge officers were gunned down by a mass shooter on July 17.
The 48-year-old firefighter, at Station 48, Riverside County, said he had wanted to show his support for the police and pay tribute to those officers and the five Dallas cops shot dead by Micah Johnson two weeks ago.
But by the next day, the Chief of Riverside County Fire Department had passed down orders to remove the flag over fears it could incite extremists to attack firefighters.
California firefighters have been forced to remove a flag honoring the police officers killed in recent weeks over ‘extremist’ fears
Eric Hille (left) had displayed the pro-police flag on his fire truck and placed a ‘Thin Blue Line’ sticker on the door, to show his support for police but within 24 hours, ‘ Chief John Hawkins (left) ordered him to take them down
Hille was also ordered to remove the blue line from the fire truck and even take down the pictures and messages of support to the fallen cops on his personal Facebook page.
‘Our foremost concern was whether the flag could create a safety risk for emergency responders due to extremists targeting the fire engine or for people following the fire engine and not being able to see the warning lights,’ Chief John Hawkins wrote in an email seen by Fox News.
He also called on the fire department to ‘look at the big picture.’
Hawkins warned that some feel the flag ‘is an attempt to incite further violence against those who, to our very core, have dedicated our lives to protecting all lives.’
‘Should we potentially increase the risk for our firefighters by flying flags, banners or signs in this time of divisiveness,’ he asked. ‘Sadly, in this unsettled time the danger is possible.’
Hille, who was furious with the decision, removed the Thin Blue Line and the flag – a black and white rendering of the American flag with a blue line running through the middle to represent police.
Hille was also ordered to remove the blue line from the fire truck (seen left, under the emblem, and right without) and even take down the pictures and messages of support to the fallen cops on his personal Facebook page
Hille says that cops he met during the short time he was allowed to display the flag and stripe, had been so grateful for the show of support (pictured is a message, which appears to have been sent by a cop at the local police department)
But he has refused to take down his social media posts.
On Facebook, he said: ‘Well….. It didn’t take long for the department pride police to put the stop on us showing support for our brothers in blue and showing support for our country’s fallen police officers.
‘I find it heartbreaking that we are not allowed to show our support for our Brothers and Sisters in Blue in the event of the recent tragedies of all the Police Officers that have been killed in the line of duty.
‘We can’t shroud our badges or even lower our station flags to half-staff, and this is just simply heart breaking.’
Hille says that cops he met during the short time he was allowed to display the flag and stripe, had been so grateful for the show of support.
He posted a message, which appears to have been sent by a cop at the local police department which read: ‘Sorry for the early wake up, wanted to thank you guys for backing our boys in blue, you always make us proud.’
And since making his battle to display a pro-police badge public, the firefighter says he’s been flooded with his own messages of support.
Hille (pictured) said it was ‘heartbreaking’ he was not allowed to show support for ‘our Brothers and Sisters in Blue’
Erin Ginese wrote on Facebook: ‘Good for you Hille. You have always been a prime example of brotherhood. I am proud of you. Stand tall brother. #respect.’
Tim McFarlane added: ‘Red or blue, we are all an emergency family! We ALL STAND TOGETHER during this hard time because it’s only a matter of time before fire and EMS become targets as well!’
‘I want to say THANK YOU to all that have voiced their frustrations over us being ordered to remove the Thin Blue Line Flag and Stripe,’ Hille added.
While he had one final message for the police.
‘To all Law Enforcement, we have your back, and stand shoulder to shoulder with you.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Riverside County Fire Department for comment.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3699969/California-firefighters-forced-remove-flag-honoring-cops-killed-recent-mass-shootings-incite-extremist-attacks.html#ixzz4F0hVxgTS
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