Firefighters present “clear and present danger,” said Newburgh mayor

Firefiightrs on the street on Wednesday (photo: Action News Service for Mid-Hudson News)

NEWBURGH – As the Newburgh City Council conducted business during its Thursday night work session, off-duty city firefighters picketed outside city hall carrying signs urging passing motorists to honk their horns in support.

The fire department faces the potential of a dozen layoffs in the city’s 2020 budget.

The horn honking could be heard during the council session on the third floor of city hall and that raised the ire of Mayor Torrance Harvey who spoke out strongly about freedom of expression and public safety.

“People have the right to assemble peacefully,” the mayor said. “People have the right to express themselves with free speech until their speech becomes a clear and present danger and speech becomes limited and that is in the United States Constitution, which is the supreme law of this nation.”

The mayor said firefighter conduct, both on- and off-duty must be professional and not impinge on the rights of others as he maintained the horn honking did Thursday night.

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