In the wake of deadly shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, some firefighters from the Riverside County Fire Department in California decided to show their solidarity and support for the fallen officers by flying a "thin blue line" American flag from a station's engine.
The flag features black and white stars and stripes, except for one blue stripe running across the middle of the flag, which was made part of the decor of the Sunnymead Ranch Station 48 engine.
Station 48 firefighter Eric Hille wrote in a Facebook post that they "received a lot of appreciation" from police for the gesture of support: "They were all so thankful ... and wanted to shake our hands to say 'Thank You' to us."
Hille announced the firefighters' intentions behind the "thin blue line" flag in a Sunday Facebook post. But on Monday, they were ordered to take down the flag, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.
Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department Chief John Hawkins issued a written statement Tuesday, the paper said, saying the flag didn't fit department standards. But Hawkins noted the "foremost concern" was that the flag could attract "extremists targeting the fire engine" and place personnel and civilians at risk, the Press-Enterprise added.
"I find it heartbreaking that we are not allowed to show our support for our brothers and sisters in blue," Hille wrote on Facebook
Hille added that the firefighters also were told to remove a blue stripe from an engine door and asked to remove photos of the flag and stripe from social media "and my personal Facebook account."
But Hille wouldn't budge on the photos.
"As you can tell, the pictures are still posted and will remain posted to show our support for our Brothers & Sisters in Blue," he wrote.
Hawkins took issue with some "venomous" social media posts about the order, saying they suggested superiors didn't support police, the Press-Enterprise said. Hawkins said such accusations are ridiculous.
"It is beyond belief to suggest 'management' isn't acutely aware of or sensitive to the attacks on our [police] brothers and sisters," Hawkins added, according to the paper. "But turning against us truly saddens me."
Hawkins added that "our hearts ache just as yours do for members of our public safety family who are under attack. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have suffered the ultimate loss and to all who stand on that line daily on our behalf."
(H/T: Todd Starnes)