The New York City Fire Department is dealing with racists within its ranks.
A white firefighter is under investigation this month after he shouted a racist and sexist insult at a Black female emergency medical technician while she was assisting residents in need, according to The New York Daily News.
The woman filed a formal complaint against a Brooklyn firefighter she claims screamed at her while they were both responding to an emergency call where thousands of residents were without power after a blackout.
“Just do your job, you black b—-h,” the fireman yelled at the black EMT worker, according to the Daily News.
The FDNY is investigating.
“A complaint has been filed with the EEO office and an investigation has been opened,” a FDNY spokeswoman said in a statement.
Unfortunately, racial friction within The New York City Fire Department is nothing new. When I was working as a journalist in New York during the 1990s, Black firefighters and Black police officers shared many stories about widespread racism within The New York City Fire Department.
Today, the New York City Fire Department is also investigating a racially charged fight among firefighters who were celebrating Medal Day. According to the Daily News, the fight started after a white firefighter called a fellow Black firefighter “n—-r” and the scuffle began. Police were called to break up the fight and several firefighters were suspended.
“The Fire Department initiated an investigation following reports of a fight involving off-duty uniformed firefighters Wednesday night in the Bronx, and has since obtained disturbing video that we have shared with the city’s Department of Investigation,” FDNY spokesman Jim Long said.
Joseph Cassano, 28, quit his former FDNY job as an emergency medical technician in March 2013 after The New York Post exposed a series of hateful tweets against blacks, Jews and poor people.
“MLK could go kick rocks for all I care, but thanks for the time and a half today,” Cassano wrote on his social-media account regarding the Martin Luther King holiday. He called Blacks by the derogatory term “shwoogs,” and tweeted, “I like jews about as much as hitler.”
“Getting sick of picking up all these obama lovers and taking them to the hospital because their medicare pays for an ambulance and not a cab,” Cassano wrote.
But today, Cassano is a full-time firefighter with The New York City Fire Department. The city hired him back in 2015 and promoted him to firefighter. His father, Salvatore Cassano, is the former New York City Fire Commissioner.
Joseph Cassano was in the news again in July after he was arrested for defecating on a stranger’s lawn furniture after a drunken fight. He was suspended for 30 days and is now back on the job.
So what will fire officials do to address the obvious racism within their station houses?
It’s clear that Cassano got a pass on his racist behavior because of his high-ranking father. Cassano was never truly reprimanded for his racist rants – and he was promoted, which rewarded despicable behavior.
And Cassano also felt the need to drag former President Barack Obama into his bigoted rants – another sign that in the Trump presidential era it’s appropriate to be openly racist while on duty as a city employee.
And what will happen to the racist EMT worker who yelled racial slurs at the black female EMT worker?
There are certainly many fair and well-intentioned firefighters in New York who embrace their fellow firemen of all racial backgrounds. But there are clearly too many racists within the fire department who are tormenting hard-working city employees simply because they are black – and there are callous supervisors who are blatantly enabling bigoted firemen.
I listened to far too many stories about racism in New York in the 1990s and I’m still writing about racism in The New York City Fire Department today.
When will the culture of racist behavior inside some of these fire stations end?
What do you think?
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