By Suzanne Phan
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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A photograph of a San Francisco firefighter wearing a controversial “Let’s Go Brandon” shirt on the job is getting a lot of reactions.
A passerby spotted the firefighter working with others on a fire hydrant near Noe and 18th in Castro District and shared this post on Twitter, “Is this the new SFFD uniform?”
ABC7 News visited the Washington and Sansome Fire Station on Monday, where fire crews were hard at work.
We asked people about the tweet.
” I do not like it. They shouldn’t be wearing this shirt, especially, demeaning our current president,” said Moises Osorin of San Francisco.
The San Francisco Fire Department said the firefighter pictured wearing the controversial shirt did not reflect the views of the department.
“I get it. I understand how upset people are about this,” Samantha Aguilar said.
“Some people support, freedom of speech. Freedom of speech. Fine. They’re right, but that’s not the uniform, what firefighters wear,” the major said.
The controversial “Let’s Go Brandon” t-shirt… A way for some to show their support for former President Donald Trump and/or to show their dislike for President Joe Biden.
SF Fire says the firefighter violated department uniform policy and they immediately took action.
A spokesperson says the department cannot speak to the disciplinary actions that have been taken because it is a personnel issue.
We heard from Danny Gracia and Local 798 of the San Francisco Firefighters Union.
“I’m all for free speech but it’s a job, we have rules and regulations,” Gracia said. “The fire department has a uniform policy. People are expected to wear the correct t-shirts, uniform shirts, uniform pants, participation coats, etc. at any time during their service.
“A lot of people might argue that what we wear is guaranteed by free speech. To some extent it is,” says William Gould, a Stanford professor of constitutional law. Gould is the author of For Labor to Build Upon: Wars, Depression and Pandemic.
“If it’s a matter that concerns the public interest and not the workplace, it’s constitutionally protected under the First Amendment,” Professor Gould said. “As an employee, you just have to wear this uniform and nothing else and it’s enforced consistently, which could be a factor that could undermine the protection of free speech.”
Back to the streets of San Francisco.
We asked Manuel Major if there is a time and a place for freedom of expression.
“Yeah. But not on your job. Not when you’re doing your job,” Major said.
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