Resemblance ignites controversy in primarily black community
An NBCNewYork investigation has led the Elmont Fire Department to change the logo of its Engine Company 3 that contained the confederate flag.
Sources tell NBCNewYork that at a meeting on Sunday the fire commissioners announced the fire truck that featured a logo of a skull wearing a confederate flag bandanna would be repainted.
The commissioners also said a confederate flag that had been inside Engine Company 3's firehouse has been removed.
The Elmont Fire Department on Long Island is responsible for about 35,000 residents, most of whom are black.
"I felt very uncomfortable when I saw that,” said an Elmont firefighter, who is black and wanted to remain anonymous for fear of repercussion.
He felt he had to talk because of what he and others allegedly saw in Engine Company 3’s TV room. A photo of that room given to NBC New York previously showed what looks to be a Confederate Flag to the right of the television. Black firefighters said they were stunned when they saw that flag inside of a firehouse.
“I feel there should be a change. There should not be a Confederate flag in the firehouse. It should not be on the fire truck."
A black community leader who looked into the matter said the department told her the flag was used because the company is known as the rebels.
We went to the firehouse to get some answers. When we asked if there was a Confederate flag inside of the firehouse the firefighters did not say anything and quickly shut the garage door which was open.
"Racism. It's the flag people use when they want you to know they are either part of the Klu Klux Klan they believe in just slavery," said Elmont Judy Djalo.
But others felt people were being too sensitive.
"I think they do a very nice job and if they were racist they wouldn't volunteer for the jobs they do," said Rafael Marte.
"They have freedom of speech and they can do whatever they want to do," said May Milord.
The Elmont Fire Department is a volunteer fire department but funded by taxpayers. Officials from the town of Hempsted, which overseas Elmont, say they have no control over the Elmont Fire Department because it is the Fire Commissioners who make all the decisions.