Letters to the editor: Questioning Central Fire truck’s grille flag and chief’s response

Have something to say? Lookout welcomes letters to the editor, within our policies, from readers. Guidelines here.

To the editor: The front grille on a Central Fire truck that regularly drives slowly along East Cliff Drive is a representation of the Betsy Ross 13-star flag.

The drivers drive slowly enough for all to see and reflect on the Betsy Ross flag front grille cover.

It is, for some, like a secret handshake and sends a message. In 2019, Nike pulled a sneaker before sales when the company learned about the adoption of the Betsy Ross flag by alt-right and KKK groups.

A complaint lodged in 2019 to the Central Fire District was ignored because the captain said the flag was benign.

But, for the “Patriot” movement, the KKK, and the American Identity Movement, the flag is a deliberate attempt to link anti-government and racist positions with the original American revolutionaries. At right-wing rallies, the Betsy Ross flag is often right next to the Confederate flag.

Recently, Lookout published an article from the Los Angeles Times on right-wing factions in law enforcement agencies.

Perhaps it is time to raise the question again with Central Fire?

Johanna Bowen
Santa Cruz

A Central Fire District fire truck with an American flag grille

Lookout asked Central Fire to respond to Bowen’s letter; Chief Jason Nee’s response follows.

To the editor: Central Fire has no association or affiliation with any political group nor any ideology relating to the Patriot Movement, the KKK, the American Identity Movement or any similar movement.

Central Fire has an artist’s rendition of the classic 50-star American flag on the front grille of some of our apparatus. The artistic design of the flag is clearly not a Betsy Ross flag. The flag design is an option from the apparatus manufacturer and not a design created by Central Fire.

A similar flag design is found on thousands of fire apparatus throughout the country. Central Fire does not have an image of the American flag on our apparatus for any political statement or nefarious purpose.

Jason Nee, Fire Chief
Central Fire District of Santa Cruz County