Thin Blue Line Flags Removed From Fire Engines In Ceremony This Morning
Kristen Arute, Hingham Current Staff, July 30, 2020
Hingham Current File Photo / Kristen Arute
In a ceremony at Central Fire Station this morning, the Thin Blue Line flags were officially removed from the backs of the fire engines by the Weymouth Police Department and taken back to Weymouth. "We had the full support of all Hingham Police officers," said Lt. Chris Melanson, president of the Hingham Firefighters Local 2398. "Weymouth came in to remove the flags because we were donating them to their department."
In spite of a decision by the Board of Selectmen and the chiefs of both the police and fire departments to have the flags removed immediately after deeming them to be political in nature, the firefighters were refusing to take them down. In a public statement on their Facebook page, the union said "no member of Local 2398 was able to sacrifice his or her moral fortitude in order to remove the flags from the apparatus."
The flags have been flown from the backs of the trucks every year since Sgt. Chesna's murder two years ago. "It has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter," said a member of the firefighters union who asked to remain anonymous.
He went on to say that the Weymouth Police Department was brought in because Sgt. Chesna was a member of the Weymouth police force and because the chief of the Hingham Police Department had not shown support for the stance the firefighters had taken. They feel that they have not received support from "above" either. "Everything with Town Hall is a battle," he said. "If they support us, they haven't shown it."
Although they have received words of encouragement "from all around the world," another member of leadership has been largely absent. "We've only seen Chief Murphy a handful of times since March," said another firefighter. "He's been working from home and never comes in."
When asked about the proposed Public Safety facility, one firefighter said that it was being used by the Selectmen as a way to show their support for Hingham firefighters, but "if it is built like this place (Central Fire Station), then it's not worth the money." He noted that the building was constructed poorly and any requests for maintenance or repair were either ignored or denied. "The place is falling apart around us," he said.
All individuals who were interviewed agreed that morale was very low among the firefighters. "I grew up in Hingham," said one. "This is not the town that I grew up in."
The Selectmen received numerous comments from the public during their meeting on Tuesday night which can be found in a previous story. The majority of the commenters were supportive of the decision to have the flags removed, and most referred to the flag as being a symbol of white supremacy. Chair Mary Power said that a flag policy would be taken up at a future meeting. Hingham resident Dan Nardo submitted a letter to the Selectmen asking that flags and displays of any kind be removed from town-owned property in the expeditious manner in which the Thin Blue Line flags have been removed. His request has not yet received a response.
Members of the Board of Selectmen are:
Mary Power, Chair
Town Administrator Tom Mayo