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HomeNewsNew York Judge Says FDNY Booing Letitia James Was About Race Not...

New York Judge Says FDNY Booing Letitia James Was About Race Not Politics

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Letitia James
Source: Reddit

In a recent court hearing, Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis brought up a troubling incident involving members of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) that suggests a continued racist culture within the organization.

The incident in question happened last month during a promotion ceremony at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. Some FDNY members were reported to have booed state Attorney General Letitia James and chanted in favor of former President Trump.

Vulcan Society President Regina Wilson raised the issue during a status conference, expressing her shock at the behavior displayed by some FDNY members. She highlighted how such actions reflect a bigger problem within the department, which can affect the work environment for Black individuals. Judge Garaufis agreed to these concerns, emphasizing that tangible actions are needed to address the issue.

“I don’t know if you had an opportunity to just see the vile nature of these members even when we were at Christian Cultural Center where they started booing and saying ‘Trump, Trump Trump,’ while Letitia James was at the podium,” Wilson said.

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“This behavior is who this department is. Not all of them, but a large portion of them. So when Black people go to work and have to deal with this and you don’t get any help or support really from the department, it’s horrific.” 

In response, Judge Garaufis spoke about the urgency of addressing the situation, directing FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and the city’s Corporation Counsel, Sylvia Hinds-Radix, to take tangible steps to fight against discrimination within the department.

“Get the EEO [Equal Employment Opportunity] office straightened out. Take some of your brilliant lawyers from the Corporation Counsel and put them in there and start holding hearings. That’s not a request, that’s a direction,” Garaufis responded, according to N.Y. Daily News. “I’ve lived in New York City all my life. I know what the problem is. And believe me, front and center is what happened the other day. This doesn’t have to do with politics, this has to do with race.”

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The Vulcan Society’s legal battle with the city dates back to 2007 when they accused the FDNY of discrimination. Although a settlement was reached in 2014, issues surrounding discrimination persist, as evidenced by the recent incident and the backlog of EEO complaints.

Wilson has long expressed concerns about the handling of EEO complaints, noting the delays in investigations. FDNY officials cited staffing shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as a contributing factor but assured efforts are underway to address the issue.

“You have 900 lawyers sitting doing other things in the Corporation Counsel’s office and lawyers all over the city government. Put them on detail, they already work for you, and do it. One hundred eighty days is not acceptable,” Judge Garaufis emphasized.

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FDNY spokesperson James Long reiterated the department’s commitment to fostering a discrimination-free work environment and stated ongoing efforts to address the concerns raised. Similarly, the Law Department assured the court of their dedication to assisting the FDNY in resolving EEO complaints.

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“The FDNY takes every EEO complaint seriously, diligently investigates each complaint, and is committed to addressing the complaint backlog,” Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci affirmed.

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