Chicago firefighters accused of removing Black Lives Matter banner on South Side

Ravi Baichwal Image
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
CFD firefighters accused of removing BLM banner
The Chicago Fire Department is investigating a claim that firefighters removed a Black Lives Matter banner.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Fire Department is investigating a claim that firefighters removed a Black Lives Matter banner on the city's South Side.

Mercy Hospital Emergency Room Doctor Adele Cobbs says she was driving north along Cornell by Burnham Park Saturday when she encountered a fire truck partially blocking the roadway.

"I go around the truck and I see through the rearview mirror the passenger of the truck is removing a Black Lives Matter banner that had been here for weeks not bothering anyone," Cobbs said. "It was just a symbol of hope for people in this neighborhood."

Cobbs said she didn't see a fire or emergency situation unfolding at the time to cause them to remove the banner.

"I just roll down my windows put my hands up in the air and said 'why?' And they proceeded to aggressively honk their horn," she said.

That's when she says she decided to file a complaint with CFD.

"I felt infuriated," she described.

In the context of nationwide demonstrations, debate over the death of George Floyd and how black people are treated by authorities, she said she took a photo and posted the encounter to the social network Nextdoor.

CFD said they have since opened an investigation into the incident.

The truck she photographed belongs to Engine 45, a historic century old CFD station in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Those who work there are known to typically enjoy good relations with the community.

"I am very upset. I am angry about it. I am tired of it [and] things have got to change," said Bronzeville resident Jackie Cisero.

Longtime CFD Spokesperson Larry Langford issued a statement that said:

"The CFD strives to serve every neighborhood with equal response and concern. We have no tolerance for any conduct that demeans any of our residents and visitors, all of whom we have taken a sworn oath to serve. I assure you we will rapidly get to the bottom of this and if found to be accurate, discipline and corrective action will be swift and just."

However, some residents are giving those involved the benefit of the doubt.

"A lot of people are very upset [and] are on edge these days," said fellow resident Marvin Gray. "And their tempers are short, so I am not inclined to condemn just based on an act or two."

"The whole point of it is to make you uncomfortable, so you see, this is how we have been living for God knows how long," Cobbs added.