A firefighter was not pleased when he observed a rainbow flag hanging outside The Crystal Ship in Placerville, Calif., after the Fourth of July weekend.
"Take this gay ass flag down. Should not be flying on Main Street. Replace that gay shit with an American flag or Confederate flag," the volunteer firefighter wrote Thursday in a "check-in" Facebook post.
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Jessica Martin, owner of the store, had installed the flag in honor of Pride month. In an interview with KOVR, a local CBS affiliate, Martin expressed dismay at the reaction to her show of support for the LGBT community.
"We've been allies for as long as I could remember and it just hurts me personally as a human being," she said.
"We are talking about discrimination, racism, we are talking about so many horrible atrocities of man in this country," Martin added.
In response, the county fire chief, Dave Bellerive, called the "derogatory" post "completely inappropriate" and not reflective of the views of the fire department. He promised that action would be taken in response.
Afterward, the firefighter apologized for his remarks.
"I spoke too soon and out of anger that the American flag was not being flown on a holiday weekend," he said in a statement. "The past day I have learned a lesson and realized that tolerance goes farther than hateful speech. I have also learned that my words affect far more people than I realized. My comments and actions in no way reflect the beliefs of Amador County Fire and I sincerely apologize for my words and actions."
Martin called the situation "unreal," and said it made her question if she made the right decision in opening a store in Placerville, which is about an hour outside of Sacramento.
Regardless, Martin has appreciated the love and support she has received from the community. And The Crystal Ship has not removed the Pride flag. In fact, it will now fly all year long. A sign on the door reads "hate has no business here," and Martin has offered to help provide one to any local show owner.
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