The New York City Officials have suspended nine firefighters after a series of racist messages and memes shared on their phones were discovered. One included mocking of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
The suspension without pay is the most severe punishment ever bestowed in the history of the Fire Department of the City of New York, according to the New York Times.
Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that the department suspended nine firefighters, without pay, ranging from a few days to six months, after looking into complaints by several Black firefighters.
According to Nigro, one of the nine suspended firefighters is expected to leave the agency after his suspension ends while three other fire department officers were reprimanded.
New York City officials have suspended nine firefighters without pay in connection with a string of racist messages and memes they shared on their phones, including ones that mocked the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. https://t.co/ltrjhqEMa0
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 3, 2021
Firefighters Mocked Floyd’s Death
In a report by Times, messages and memes way back in April were found where the white firefighters mocked George Floyd’s death when Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck which eventually killed him.
The report also states that the firefighters exchanged other racist messages including one about using fire hoses to protesters.
Black Firefighters Believe the Suspension Fell Short
According to Black Firefighters in the department, the suspension fell far short in addressing the deep-rooted problems. Leaders also acknowledged that racism, sexism, and harassment have all been tolerated.
Nigro stated that the department has embraced diversity programs and even welcomed historically diverse classes into the academy in the previous years.
He also noted that the department is working to turn into a more inclusive one but admitted to its faults.
“We’ve welcomed the folks in and now we have to make them feel welcome,” Nigro told the newspaper. “We have to make them feel as if they belong. And in some cases, we failed.”