FDNY Searching for MAGA Firefighters Who Booed Letitia James

2023 New York City Veterans Day Parade

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Last week, state Attorney General Letitia James was booed and heckled with pro-Trump chants as she gave remarks during an FDNY promotion ceremony. Now, the department is reportedly looking for the people who disrupted her speech.

On Thursday, James, whose prosecution of Donald Trump over inflated real-estate prices ended badly for the former president, took the stage at the Christian Cultural Center in Starrett City, Brooklyn. She was there to honor the 65 uniformed members from Fire and EMS Operations and the Bureau of Fire Investigation, 29 members of the Bureau of Fire Prevention, and 34 civilian employees receiving promotions at the ceremony. The FDNY was also preparing to swear in Reverend Pamela Holmes as the department’s first Black woman fire chaplain.

Audience members started booing beginning from the moment James was announced and continued as she began speaking. The attorney general tried to calm the crowd. “Oh, come on. We’re in a house of God,” James said as the heckling persisted. “First … simmer down. Thank you, thank you, thank you for getting it out of your system.” But the crowd did not stop there, eventually escalating into chants of “Trump.”

James is a frequent target of Trump’s ire on social media, where he has consistently hurled a variety of insults at the state’s first Black woman attorney general, including calling her “racist,” “corrupt,” and “Peekaboo,” which some say is an allusion to an anti-Black slur.

The New York Post reported that the department was launching an investigation into the protest at the ceremony. According to the outlet, the FDNY is circulating a memo at firehouses across the city, advising the department is looking through footage of the event to find those who disrupted the ceremony, calling their actions “grossly inappropriate.”

“When you’re not on duty, feel however you want about politicians,” the internal letter reads, per the Post. “Vote. Protest. That’s your right. But don’t do it on the job’s time, on other members’ time, or on their families’ time. Do it on your own time.”

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh returned to the church on Sunday, apologizing to the congregation for the actions of the crowd.

Local and state Republican criticized the FDNY’s decision to investigate the protest. Councilmember Joann Ariola, who chairs the body’s Fire & Emergency Management Committee, said first responders “should not be held accountable for exercising their First Amendment rights.” Councilmember Inna Vernikov called the commissioner and department “political hacks and hypocrites.” During a recent appearance on Fox News, Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis suggested that the department shouldn’t have invited James in the first place, calling her a “polarizing figure.”

In a statement, FDNY spokesman Jim Long said the department’s action is not a political one. “Nobody is hunting anyone down. We’re looking into those who clearly broke department regulations,” he said. “It has nothing to do with politics. It’s about professionalism at an official event held in a house of worship.”

Andrew Ansbro, the president of the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association, wrote in an Post op-ed that the heckling of James was “juvenile.” But he noted that similar incidents have happened before and said department higher-ups should’ve stepped in during the moment, calling the search for the perpetrators after the fact an “disingenuous attempt to save political face.”

“I apologize to AG James for this unfortunate event, and I hope my apology will be accepted. But we’re going to vigorously defend our members because in the end, what they did wasn’t new and if it was wrong, the people that should have stopped them failed to do so,” he wrote.

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