Brave firefighter under fire for taking a knee during charity football game

A Chicago Fire department feels burned by a firefighter who kneeled in protest during a charity football game in honor of two fallen first responders, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Camron McGarity, a Black man playing for the Chicago Police Department’s Enforcers team in the eighth annual “First Responders Bowl.” When the national anthem played, McGarity took a knee in protest on the sidelines. Expressing his feelings about police brutality apparently angered onlookers and members of his own fire station.

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Garry McCarthy a fired Chicago Police Superintendent who is now a mayoral contender, said the protest was disrespectful considering that the football game  was honoring two firefighters Commander Paul Bauer and former dive team member Juan Bucio, who died during a Memorial Day rescue on the Chicago River.

Teammates are considering booting McGarity off next year’s team, sources said.

But don’t expect Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago to discipline McGarity for invoking his rights. He has no plan to discipline or even reprimand him.

“It appears the member is expressing his First Amendment right to demonstrate,” Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford wrote in a text message to the Sun-Times.

McCarthy said officials are doing the right thing by not reprimanding McGarity.

“During the [2012] NATO Summit, I talked about the fact that I would protect peoples’ First Amendment right to free speech, whether I agreed with them or not. And it’s really the same thing here,” said McCarthy.

“As an American and as the son of a World War II veteran who was injured on Mount Suribachi –– that iconic [Iwo Jima] photo that everybody in the world is aware of — I was raised with incredible reverence for this country and the flag. Having said that, while I may disagree personally with anybody who engages in some sort of behavior like that, I still respect the right to free speech.”

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