Firefighter slammed for taking knee at charity football game
Camron McGarity kneeled during the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the eighth annual First Responders Bowl, which was dedicated to fallen responders Paul Bauer and Juan Bucio
By FireRescue1 Staff
CHICAGO — An African-American firefighter is taking heat after kneeling during the national anthem at a fire-police charity football game.
Chicago Sun Times reported that Chicago Fire Department firefighter Camron McGarity took a knee during the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the eighth annual First Responders Bowl, which was dedicated to fallen responders Paul Bauer and Juan Bucio.
Former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy attended the event and McGarity’s protest prompted “grumbling” from the crowd, and sources said McGarity’s teammates are considering not allowing him to play next season because of the disrespect towards the families of Bauer and Bucio.
Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said he does not plan to reprimand McGarity for his actions.
“It appears the member is expressing his First Amendment right to demonstrate,” he said.
McCarthy agreed with Santiago and said the First Amendment should be protected.
“During the  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,” McCarthy said. “As an American and as the son of a World War II veteran who was injured on Mount Suribachi … 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.”
McCarthy added that McGarity’s “inappropriate behavior” distracted the crowd from “what the game was all about … The game was played in honor of Bucio and Paul Bauer.”