By Chuck Strouse
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Williams says that on a shift the two had worked the day after the attack, there had been a small flag on the truck and they hadn't objected. It wasn't really a big deal to them. After the firehouse discussion, they thought the matter was resolved. Until the story aired on Channel 7. Then all hell broke loose, but both Moore and Williams said the TV station never interviewed them to get their side.
Channel 7 reporter Juan Carlos Fanjul claims he "tried to reach the firefighters" but was unsuccessful. (New Times found Moore by calling directory assistance.) Because he couldn't, Fanjul based his story on the fire department's version. That's where the "refused to ride in the truck" stuff came from. Fanjul argues that his reporting was fair because the following day he interviewed the third African-American firefighter from the station, William Clark, who explained why the flag is so problematic: "This is a country that has not said a simple “I'm sorry' for slavery in 400 years." To which Fanjul responded, pointing his microphone at Clark's face: "Do you have a problem with the flag?"
The whole ordeal makes Moore question all the "patriotism" in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack. "They are talking about freedom and what it means to them. [But] what if you disagree with the status quo? We don't want to confront the ugly truth about ourselves. We love to hate people. In a couple of days, we have all of Dade and Broward hating our guts. We don't have bin Laden, but we have the next best thing -- three [black] firefighters."