Black Lives Matter Pin Source of Grievance Filed by Local Firefighter

Press release from Humboldt Bay Firefighters Local No. 652

Humboldt Bay Firefighters Local No. 652

Humboldt Bay Firefighters Local No. 652

Second generation Eureka firefighter Matt McFarland began wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ pin on his uniform shirt in November of 2016. In March of this year, Humboldt Bay Fire Chief Bill Gillespie ordered McFarland to remove the pin. McFarland has filed a grievance with the Joint Powers Authority, which is Humboldt Bay Fire’s governing body.

Humboldt Bay Fire’s uniform policy states that one pin may be worn, provided it is fire service related and in good taste. McFarland asserts that “My pin is without a doubt related to my service as a firefighter because recent political events have created an environment of heightened fear and anxiety among communities of color, and increased distrust of law enforcement. This sentiment is highly detrimental to our ability, as emergency responders, to do our jobs well.”
Firefighter McFarland continues, “Nobody is safe when a large portion of our community is reluctant to engage with emergency services when these services are needed. We can choose to continue to deny or ignore the difficult experiences of the people suffering most in our communities – or we can choose to listen to them, believe their lived experiences, and work together to improve the systems we share. I believe that this is a discussion worth having, and I want to live in a community that is courageous enough to have these conversations, even when they are messy, uncomfortable, and imperfect.”
According to McFarland’s legal representation, “A ban on Black Lives Matters pins exposes the District to significant liability because it constitutes unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.”
Joint Powers Authority board members Joann Gath, Ed Dewald, Kim Bergel, and Austin Allison will meet on Wednesday, June 7th at 10:00 a.m. at Eureka City Hall (council chambers) for a hearing on the grievance. The hearing is open to the public. McFarland will hold a press conference directly before the hearing, beginning at 9:30 in front of City Hall.


  • Just opening up another can of worms..leave it alone jeeze!
    Emergency personnel not responding properly is just hearsay.

    • Veterans friend

      You are ignorant of the reality. Educate yourself. Use sources other than FOX

      • That’s an ignorant comment if I’ve ever seen one, you immediately jump to fox? They are refering to the hsu debacle where first responders were slandered by a lying violent racist on the news. Black lives do matter! You on the other hand don’t.

      • Yeah, watch MSNBC and CNN and you’ll get educated NOT!

    • They won’t be happy till black lives matter more then the rest, the reverse racism thing is getting to be a very big motion,I swear the racism war was won long ago,it’s beeing rejuvenated by pins like that.Just drop it, let it go,all lives matter is what the pin should say,if I wore one that said white lives matter the other races would think I’m racist against any other color life.Theres no average white guy colledge fund but there is a negro fund.There are several groups that are set up just for black,no others.If those groups were only for whites it would be racist.I have no need for racism in my life,it’s a mistake our for fathers made,but it’s gone too far the other way now, I feel as though the ones that hated it the most are now doing it themselves like it’s their right.ALL LIVES MATTER,OR NO LIVES MATTER anything else is racist, and none of it should be worn at work.Just my 2 c

      • wokecalifornian

        The racism war was won long ago.
        What?!?!?! Racism has NEVER died down. POC have never been treated with the same decency and respect that white people have been. Thats not winning the war for POC, that’s continuing to oppress a group of people whom white people consider to be less important. Yes all lives matter but until POC are treated with the same respect white people are afforded, the message needs to be loud and clear: Black lives matter just as much as any other race. Until people can get that through their thick skulls, we will continue to stand up for the rights FOR ALL.

      • African Americans born 50+ years ago are much more respectful, mannerly, ethical even though they are the ones that have experienced racism. Today, many feel they are “entitled” for what generations before them went through. I get the impression many are looking for a FREE ride, or anything they can get for FREE and the easiest way to achieve this is insight “racism.” As one whos best friend is black, lived with a African American family, I’ve had many conversations with older African Americans who feel today’s generation is out of control and the Black Lives Matter is not only adding fuel to the fire but actually preventing the current generation from living up to their potential. To bad we all weren’t color blind.

  • Will there ever be an end to these depraved attention seeking whiners? What’s next, the demand for ‘gender appropriate’ pink boots? Maybe they should be allowed to ware their wife’s ‘pussy’ hat too. What a dumb ass. Just fire him.

    • Maybe he knows a bit more about the reality of his working environment than you Monday-morning quarterbacks. You offering to take his place?

    • Veterans friend

      Not until black lives matter. That is the point. Read your newspaper today to see how Oakland police show more respect to white than to black drivers pulled over.
      You need to LEARN

      • Black Rifles Matter

        That’s because we give them respect when we are pulled over.

        • wokecalifornian

          You expect POC to be totally cool in their interactions with cops? You obviously know NOTHING about police brutality and The rampant racism that spans the gamut of law enforcement agencies. POC are singled out constantly. Heard of Sandra Bland? Eric Garner? Desmond Phillips? All gunned down mercilessly by undertrained, trigger happy law enforcement. Read the actual facts. Actually learn something other than basing your opinion on a bunch of propaganda BS.

    • wokecalifornian

      It’s wear. And why are you so upset about people standing up for equality FOR ALL?? Scared that people of all walks of life are going to be treated with the same attitudes and respect that white people get?? If you were a minority you would be damn grateful for the people who defend your rights. Get over yourself.

    • Spelchek much?

    • I think he totally has a right to support Black Lives Matter movement. You really can’t argue with the videos of police brutality the last couple years. Video=proof
      If conservative idiots like you, Ralph, were getting beat up by cops on a regular basis you would probably support a similar cause.

      • Sweet. So they should be allowed to wear white lives matter pins too…..?? O wait thats racist and would get u fired.. nevermind.

        • wokecalifornian

          Because it IS racist. Please explain to me exactly what white people are so proud of. There is literally nothing white people should be proud of. We’ve robbed millions of their lands and homes. We stole people from other countries-our country and economy were built on the backs of these people and you have the nerve to say white people should be proud. Complete ignorance.

          • What should black people be so proud of?????? U say there is nothing, i repeat nothing white people should be proud of huh? Wow. I cant be proud of my irish heritage huh. I suppose thats racist according to you? [edit] maybe u should look at recent redhead blackbelt crime pages. Black n proud. So what are black people so proud of thats any differant then ” my” people. I ask u??? Go be the white guy wearing the black lives matter shirt n front of the courthouse with your “pink” hat on. Pride is a sin, black or white. We are all just polluting humans. People=sh$t. Period.

            • wokecalifornian

              Look at that. Typical white American can’t make a legitimate solid argument so you resort to your Neanderthal ways of saying things like “f** u”
              POC SHOULD be proud. This country was built on their backs. We’ve been treating minorities like 2nd class citizens. It’s time for everyone to have the same equal rights as white people. I’m Norwegian and while I’m somewhat stoked about my ancestors, the Vikings, it makes me sick to my stomach that they raped and pillaged many small communities.
              You should REALLY read up on the history of Ireland-like actual facts-and explain what you’re so proud of…the slaughtering of thousands of pagans? The IRA waging war against their own people? The discrimination of people of different religions? Protestants saying anyone of different religions didn’t belong in Ireland? It’s almost the EXACT same thing that is happening here in the states.

              • My point made. We humans are ALL greedy ,racist , prejudice individuals that go back to the vikings and YES. Africa. They slaughter n rape to this very day. We the people are nothing speacial. blm movement is spreading racism, not healing it. Viking heritage is something you should be proud of. African heritage is something they should be proud of. Stop rubbing into peoples face that POC need to be treated special. So your saying POC should be pround but not”whites”?! Thats racism buddy…!So point is ….. saying white lives matter is racist, so is saying black lives matter. You have valid arguments though… Irish americans were treated no different than todays blacks n the ghettos when they first came to america. History.

          • Black Rifles Matter

            White people have a ton To be proud of….. I am proud to be white and I’ll be damned if you or someone else thinks I shouldn’t be. Go ahead call me a racist…. I’m so numb to the word nowadays that I’m ok with it.
            Black people still complain about the slave days when in actuality we did them the biggest favor by doing what we did. Look how Africa has worked out since then. I think the slaves and their next generations had it a lot better than their kinfolk in Africa.
            I know your going to say that is “racist” but hey, it is what it is.

            • wokecalifornian

              Holy s**t you are so damn ignorant it makes my head hurt. We did them a favor?! Are you friggen kidding me?! We enslaved hundreds of thousands of POC and exploited them. We made them work in the cotton fields, tobacco fields, coffee plantations and they didn’t even get paid for it. People bought and sold human beings like cattle and you say we did them a favor. Wow.

              • Black Rifles Matter

                Yep. Did them a huge favor. Better than starving to death in Africa or being killed by their own people.
                Thanks for the compliment nag.


                • Black Rifles Matter

                  What’s truly hilarious is Black people enslave more people than any other race in the world currently. Know what’s even funnier? They enslave their own race, “blacks”. Look at war torn Africa! Blacks enslaving blacks. Look at American blacks. Blacks killing blacks. It’s just the way it is.
                  Boy, that sure was fun saying blacks that many times…..

                • Sure, the opportunity to be shackled in the hold of slave ship, separated from family, shipped to a foreign country, forced to work for others by violence is always a step up in the world.

              • In 1619, a Dutch ship, the White Lion, captured 20 ENSLAVED Africans in a battle with a Spanish ship. They landed at Jamestown, Virginia for repairs from the battle. For food and supplies, the Dutch traded the enslaved Africans to the Colonials as INDENTURED servants.

                Indentured SERVANTS were given 50-250 acres of land to start their own families and farms, after their 7 year hitch.

                One such indentured servant was named Anthony Johnson. When freed, he accumulated hundreds of acres.

                Anthony Johnson “bought” many Indentured servants. When his favorite worker was freed, the servant sought employment with a man named Parker. Parker hired him on the spot. Anthony Johnson became so jealous, he took Parker to court.

                Anthony Johnson won his case, due to it still being the 1600’s and the corrupt King still reigned over all the Brits, including the colonists who were under the King’s rule.
                The King’s courts ruled that Black men can own Black men. Own. Yes, own. Anthony Johnson became the FIRST SLAVE OWNER IN THE COLONIES. Anthony Johnson was himself, a black man.

                Then all hell broke loose. The non loyalists colonists wanted freedom from ALL oppression. The non loyalists Brits across the pond wanted freedom from ALL oppression. Slavery was the most appalled oppression of all.

                The Revolution came. Give me LIBERTY or give me death! rang the battle cry.
                The Declaration of Independence lists the many grievances against the King. Many of those are being repeated today, thanks to the history revisions taught by the corrupt tyrants we’ve put in charge.

                Patriots fought against ALL enslavement, from taxes to slavery. Loyalists to the King fought the patriots.


                Even Berkely starts out factual:..

    • I agree. Do your job and quit making something out of nothing. All lives matter.

  • Jo Ann Huffman

    This disturbs me in that it’s not management’s call to prevent a person from wearing a pin. No one’s ability to perform is affected by this person and, as a person of color who’s both worn a pin of this type and been persecuted because of this, I’m offended at this attitude. White folks should be aware that they are privileged and leave room for the rest of us to state our case.

    • Thinking allowed

      Actually any public service employee generally can be restricted as to what public displays of political or other issues they make. It is almost universally part of a standards of conduct that every public must follow when pursuing official duties. If there is no public contact, then a less strict standard is followed. Usually to the effect that it must not be egregiously offensive. The reason for this is clear to everyone without an agenda.

      • Here here !! Finally someone who knows the rules of On Duty Conduct. There is no room for politics when on duty as a first responder!!

  • wokecalifornian

    Oh no! Gods forbid you make a stand against racism, bigotry, and intolerance. For being a somewhat progressive area, Humboldt is full of uneducated, slack-jawed yokels who can’t accept change and equality FOR ALL. No wonder we had such a high trump voting constituency.

    • No ones stopping them,just have to do their personal agenda on their personal time, not as a public employee,it’s pretty cut and dry

      • wokecalifornian

        People have the right to stand up for equality for all regardless of when and where it is. People in that line of work, as well as any law enforcement, SHOULD be making that statement. It is paramount that POC and minorities have full trust in our first responders and law enforcement. Otherwise we continue to be a country divided. POC and minorities ARE NOT looking for special treatments or rights, they want EQUAL rights-to be treated on the same level as white people, that’s literally ALL they’re asking for.

  • Veterans friend

    I fully support this brave firefighter. Step up folks. Black lives matter …no joke, no question. Racial divisions harm all of us.
    This man deserves the support of the whole community.

    • Don’t you think if you really wanted to promote equality you would wear a pin that says all lives matter, by wearing a pin that only states that black lives matter he’s promoting One race of human beings over another which by definition is not equality.

      • If my pin said your wife/husband/daughter matters after one of them went through something unimaginable to a man with a mind as severely restricted as yours would you still get all sad and jealous and cranky and whiney?

        I matter too you guys!!

        Hey wait up guys!!

  • I am happy we have first responders that give a shit about equality. Props to Matt McFarland for standing up for his beliefs!

    • Its not equailty. “They” fucking hate whitey. Get that straight. Props to all firefighters n first resopders. Stay out of this racist bullcrap of “black lives matter”. I would love to see a “african american” wear a white lives matter shirt or pin, THAT would be equality! So to say any lives due to color are more important than lives of another color is racism. Plain n simple. All lives matter!

      • wokecalifornian

        Omg…NO ONE is saying anyone’s lives matter more than another’s…other than white people. Why is it that white people act so victimized when POC and minorities are asking for the same treatment and respect that white people receive? Furthermore, white people have literally have NOTHING to be proud of.

        • U sound very racist by the way wokecali

          • wokecalifornian

            It’s racist to say that POC’s lives matter JUST AS MUCH as white people? You should look up the definition of racism.

          • wokecalifornian

            I’M WHITE. Just because I point out the hypocrisy in the statements and mind frames of white people doesn’t mean I’m racist by any means, I’m telling you how it actually is.
            By thinking that ALL races wanting equality is somehow racist shows that you seriously know nothing about racism and the actual definition of it. The only people wanting special treatment are white people who think they’re being persecuted beacause, gods forbid, any other race has equal rights….EQUAL. Not special treatment, not better treatment, just EQUAL. There’s NOTHING wrong with that. And if you find a problem with any of that YOU are the one who is spewing the racism.

            • Sounds like the guy wearin the pin to work that’s against dress code is the one wanting special treatment to me,why should he be aloud to break the rules?

        • Would the fact that the first two countries in the world to outlaw slavery were predominantly white be something to be proud of?

  • Good on him. He makes a strong argument, and should be allowed to continue serving his community without his snowflake chief starting a needless bureaucratic conflict. Waste of everybody’s time.

    • Sounds like he should follow the rules of his job like everyone else, he knows the dress code and he’s breaking it on purpose to start something,he can wear the pin of his preference after work like everyone else,he shouldn’t get special treatment

  • If the Chief has applied the same principle to blue lives matter pins or wrist bands, I would say the department is on solid ground. I hope I am wrong but, I doubt that is the case. In the long run he may end up with a retaliation grievance as well. I hope the local press see this as an opportunity to peek into the departments culture and does more than publish press releases.

  • Wow. A uniform policy for public employees. Gosh, I guess politics must be first and foremost in importance for the employee to choose to use his uniform as a platform for his stance on equality. If his coworker chose to wear a Trump on or pro pot pin they to would of course be deemed offensive and the uproar intense. I sure do hope Chief Gillespie has competent legal representation. He surely will need it in the current political climate. Yes, it would be easier for him to roll over on this issue. He appears to have a sense of what should be, even though some, not all may agree with his decision. In this time of political angst it is a very dangerous road supervisors and business owners walk as they work to provide employment opportunities in a time where employees desire to force their politics into the work place. Neutrality is no longer the norm.

  • It should be the Chief’s final decision as to what is acceptable. And his efforts would be better expended on seeking the funding to reinstate the (all lives matter) swimmer rescue program. He shouldn’t have to waste time dealing with this issue.

  • Congratulations Matt McFarland!!! Please begin planning your run for Chief!

    I do believe the atmosphere, integrity and moral compass’ of (not only) Humbolt County but, wherever & however your influence may reach to touch a community, there will be fairness, friendship and kindness -all while doing your job – and afford your strong determination to expect the same from your crew AND your community, without regard to gender, race, religion, politics, sexuality and yes, even Ralph!

    Reading all of the comments here, it seems your plight is fairly well supported by ‘the community’, eagerly awaiting the incorporation of your compass… AND run for Chief!

  • Rules are rules,and the Chief didn’t write them he just follows them!! My father-in-law was a fireman,and my uncle as well. They were only allowed their badge. Did the rules change?🔥

  • It seperates and divids. All lives matter. Quit continuing racism.

    • Exactly joe, that is the problem ,you hit the nail on the head

      • NO IT’S NOT.




    • wokecalifornian

      It’s divides. The only people continuing racism are white people.

      • Wow. Really. The most racist people ive ever met are black. Are you sure your norweigen n white woke cali?….hmmm well hope u never end up n jail or prison woke californian. The blacks will still hate you and the whites will have there way with you….preach to the BLM movement, they’ll feed your ego. Im proud ,white , free n laughing. Bye

        • wokecalifornian

          There’s literally no ego involved in this. I’m saying that ALL PEOPLE should be treated equally. How is that egotistical?
          I grew up in the city and have been around PLENTY of POC. I’ve been accepted by many different communities because I come to people with respect.
          Prison? Digression. Anyone with half a brain knows how things work in correctional facilities. With that said I have deviated from my very first point: ALL HUMANS should be treated equally regardless of the color of their skin. Why is it wrong to believe this?

          • Its not. Its not at all

            • Ps wokecali. Please move back to the city with your man bun and reunite with your POC as u call them (if we are all equal,then why are they POC?). Humboldt is not a place for your kind, and yes u do spew racisim. When u say ALL white people should not be proud of who they are based on color that is putting a stigma on a person because they are white. Your saying i should be ashamed of my self because of my color so yes…f@&k you. Thats like saying ALL black people are ignorant. Racisim right. U and POC can point at me n blam, but i cant even defend myself or my race with out being called a racist. So who is privliged?

      • It's black and white,read it

        reverse racism is the only thing being perpetuated now,all races have equal rights except whites,whites don’t have a naacp,they don’t have a Caucasian college fund,they don’t have land set aside by the government to live on for free if they want,and they would be judged huge if they wore a white lives matter pin.Besides that were all equal rights,show me where any race is restricted from a WHITE right !

  • I’ve never noticed the small details of a firefighter’s uniform before.

    Whatever the outcome of the hearing, it’s nice that this man, in personalizing his uniform, thought to send a message of inclusiveness.Good for him.

  • Blm is a racist org
    No doubt.
    Fire McFarland.

  • Stand with free speech.

    I definetly would feel safer with a firefighter who had a BLM pin. Props to McFarland!

  • Is that the new Smokey the Bear slogan?

  • I have lost every ounce of respect for Matt McFarland.

    Fire him.

    • Fire him for wearing a pin? for filing a grievance?

      • Thinking allowed

        My boss would have in an instant for going public with an internal matter. This firefighter made a public Federal case out of a dress code. A uniform dress code in specific. A totally non discriminatory blasted dress code, not even a whiff of race involved until he made it so. And with no personal standing.

        If he is permitted, then it is guaranteed that someone will come up with an anti BLM item and make demands too. And have a precedent for it. So they were forced to deny his grievance which puts them unfairly in a bad light with some of the public.

        They can’t fire him for filing a grievance but he has given them plenty of other cause for action.

  • Let him wear the pin already! Sheesh!

  • I don’t object to the pin or what it stands for,I’m just a rule follower. It’s for a reason. It’s damned if you do,or damned if you don’t. It’s not a racism far from that

  • Dear Abused Discriminated Underpaid Unemployed Imprisoned and Neglected White People,

    I’ve heard it said Jesus Loves You.

    I didn’t know him nor was I there at the time, so I don’t know for sure.

    I’m curious when being white most disrupted your life.. the bigotry.. a marriage destroyed? family member killed? a random beating? an intentional beating in a cell on trumped up charges?

    I’m sure there’s lots of ‘being white’ horror stories out there..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *