Politics

FDNY Commissioner Will Go After Firefighters Who Heckled AG Letitia James

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The top New York Fire Department official has threatened to hunt down and discipline firefighters and other staff who heckled and booed state Attorney General Letitia James during an event last week to honor the department’s first black female chaplain.

According to The New York Post, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh issued the warning following reports that firefighters cheered for former President Donald Trump and jeered James during the promotion ceremony.

Following the incident, the FDNY Chief of Department John Hodges informed other agency heads via email that a reckoning by the department’s Bureau of Investigation and Trials was imminent.

In the letter that The Post was able to obtain from Hodges on Saturday, he wrote, “BITS is investigating this so they will figure out who the members are.”

“I recommend they come forward. I have been told by the commissioner that it will be better for them if they come forward and we don’t have to hunt them down,” he continued.

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“The [deputy chiefs] shall direct the captain of the company to make a list of those who come forward and send it directly to [FDNY operations]. I realize members might not come forward but they should know that there is a clear video of the entire incident and they will be contacted by BITS if they don’t,” he continued, according to The Post.

The outlet also obtained a list of talking points for the deputy chiefs conducting the investigation.

“We want the members to come forward. They will come to headquarters to be educated why their behavior is unacceptable,” it said.

One department retiree blasted the FDNY’s outsized and heavy-handed response to the jeering.

“It was a political stunt for the city to have the AG there. When it backfired, they sent their fascist pit bulls after guys for exercising their First Amendment rights,” he said. “Most were off-duty and not in FDNY uniform.”

Constitutional attorney and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz also blasted the department’s response.

“Firefighters have an absolute constitutional right to boo the attorney general, and the government has no power to punish them for it,” he told The Post. “So efforts to get the names of the booers is an effort by the government to chill free speech and is unconstitutional.”

An FDNY spokesman denied that the department was “hunting down” members suspected of engaging in the protest.

“Nobody is hunting anyone down. We’re looking into those who broke department regulations,” said spokesman Jim Long. “It has nothing to do with politics. It’s about professionalism at an official event held in a house of worship.”

The Post added: “James was invited to speak at the event to honor her friend, The Rev. Pamela Holmes, who was being sworn in as the department’s second female chaplain and the first black woman to hold that title.”

Meanwhile, video footage shows Kavanagh being heckled at the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, following her department’s announcement to take action against FDNY members who supported Trump and booed James, The Post noted.

“You suck,” one protester yelled at Kavanaugh as she marched past Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, according to video obtained by Fox News.

“Firefighters are the hunters,” he screamed.

Following Kavanagh’s passing, city service members were observed waving and giving thumbs up to the vocal group as they continuously chanted former President Donald Trump’s name. Video footage showed some members stopping to shake their hands.

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Elected officials, union leaders, and civil rights lawyers condemned the directive as authoritarian, claiming that it would be unconstitutional and violate free speech laws.

Hodgens backtracked on his comments in an email to battalion chiefs on Tuesday, admitting that using “hunt” was “a poor choice of words.”

“It was not meant to be taken literally and was never uttered by anyone on the executive staff,” he wrote. “Specifically, there was not, and is not, an investigation into members booing.”

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