Report: 9 New York firefighters suspended for racist messages
NEW YORK (AP) – New York City officials have suspended nine firefighters without pay over a slew of racist messages and memes they shared on their phones, including those who poked fun at the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis last year, according to a released report.
A spokesperson called the suspensions the most severe sentences ever imposed in the history of the New York City Fire Department, The New York Times reported in Friday’s editions.
After reviewing complaints from several black firefighters, the department suspended all nine firefighters without pay for periods ranging from a few days to six months, Fire Marshal Daniel Nigro said. One of the firefighters is expected to leave the agency after his suspension ends, Nigro said. In addition, three firefighters were reprimanded.
In last April’s posts and memes, white firefighters mocked Floyd’s final moments with Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck, the Times reported. He said they also exchanged other racist messages, including one about the use of fire hoses on protesters.
Black firefighters told The Times they believe the suspensions fall short of solving what they see as deeply rooted issues in the department, where leaders have acknowledged racism, sexism and harassment have been tolerated.
Nigro said the department has embraced diversity initiatives and welcomed historically diverse classes to the academy in recent years. He said the ministry was working to become more inclusive, but he also admitted his fault.
“We have welcomed people and now we have to make them feel welcome,” Nigro told the newspaper. “We have to make them feel like they belong. And in some cases we have failed.”