NEW YORK (AP) – New York City officials have suspended nine firefighters without pay over racist messages and memes shared on their phones that mocked the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. published report.
A spokesman called the suspension the harshest punishment ever in the history of the New York City Fire Department, The New York Times reported in Friday’s editions.
Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Negro said that after seeing complaints from several black firefighters, the department suspended nine firefighters without pay for anywhere from a few days to six months. Negro said one firefighter is expected to leave the agency after the suspension ends. Along with this, three officers of the fire department were also reprimanded.
The Times reported that in messages and memes last April, white firefighters mocked the moment Floyd died on the neck of Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin. It said they also exchanged other racist messages, one of which was about the use of fire hoses on protesters.
Black firefighters told the Times that they believe the suspension has fallen short of addressing deep-rooted problems in the department, where leaders acknowledge that racism, sexism and harassment have been tolerated.
Negro said the department has embraced diversity initiatives in recent years and has welcomed historically diverse sections to the Academy. He said the department was working to become more inclusive, but he also acknowledged the mistake.
“We have welcomed the people and now we have to make them feel welcome,” Negro told the newspaper. “We have to make them feel like they are. And in some cases we have failed.”