Press Releases

For Immediate Release: January 10, 2007

NY's Bravest Fight to Protect 1st Amendment Rights

Demand Halt to Regulation Banning Display of American Flags, Family Photos & Images of Deceased Comrades

Today in response to a recently implemented and draconian FDNY regulation to ban American flags, family photos and even Mass cards of firefighters who died on September 11, 2001, the Uniformed Firefighters Association announced it has begun exploring legal action against Fire Commissioner Nick Scoppetta and Chief of Department Sal Cassano to protect the 1st Amendment rights of New York City Firefighters.

The union has retained the services of attorney Ronald L. Kuby of the firm of Kuby & Perez LLP to represent every New York City Firefighter in the protection of firefighters' 1st Amendment rights. It also announced that on beginning today, it will distribute 10,000 American flag decals to firefighters throughout the City of New York.

In recent weeks Commissioner Scoppetta and Chief Cassano began enforcement of FDNY Regulation 19.2.2 mandating that "lockers assigned to members shall have their name and assigned locker number affixed to the front and be maintained free of all material e.g., pictures, posters, news articles, etc." The regulation further goes on to prohibit the dissemination and display of any "material which is, or may be construed as, offensive or controversial in nature ...in or about Department buildings."

Firefighters often keep photos of their loved ones, of fellow firefighters who died in the line of duty, yellow ribbons supporting the troops or American flag decals on their locker. Under this regulation and its recent enforcement all such forms of personal expression are banned and officers have been ordering firefighters to remove all personal objects from their lockers.

In a letter to Commissioner Scoppetta, the firefighters' attorney Ron Kuby advises that the policy put forth by the commissioner is, "problematic, paternalistic and demoralizing" and cites more than half-dozen legal decisions supporting the firefighter's right to 1st Amendment protections.

Mr. Kuby goes on to advise the Commissioner, "Your latest draconian policy insults the honorable men and women of the New York City Fire Department, enrages those of us who once waved flags at these heroes, and it also runs afoul of the United States Constitution. I write to urge you to immediately revise the FDNY's policy. If the flag can not be waived in the firehouse, Supreme Court precedent still can."