Firefighter Matt McFarland is not allowed to wear a Black Lives Matter (BLM) pin on his Humboldt Bay Fire uniform. Eureka Police Chief Andre Mills saw McFarland wearing his pin on his uniform and felt it was against uniform code for Humboldt Bay Fire, and reported it to their deputy chief. The fire chief agreed with Mills and asked Matt McFarland to remove the pin because it violated HBF uniform code that stated pins worn on a uniform cannot be political and must be in good taste.
Chief Gillespie said, “We work to stay neutral. We don’t take a side or a stance on any movement because while it may support some members of the community, it may offend or put off other members of the community.”
McFarland filed an appeal of Gillespie’s action before the Fire Joint Authority Board. Community members voiced their support of McFarland at the hearing. However, McFarland’s fellow firefighter, Jason Campillo, was against his wearing the pin.
The main argument of the hearing, whether or not Black Lives Matter is a political or social movement, and Chief Mills has worn a “Police Lives Matter” bracelet while on duty. Mills said, “Police Lives Matter” is not a political movement.