On Friday, The New York Times released a lengthy expose of racism within the New York City Fire Department — including posts about what some white firefighters wanted to do with the George Floyd protesters last year.
"After the murder of George Floyd more than a year ago touched off protests against racism and violence in policing, the culture inside New York City's firehouses deteriorated beyond repair, Mr. Charles and other Black firefighters said," reported Astead Herndon and Ali Watkins. "White firefighters shared racist messages and memes on their phones mocking Mr. Floyd's dying moments. They gloated about how police could 'legally shoot Black children.' And lieutenants discussed turning fire hoses on protesters, prompting debates about whether the tactic would work, because 'wild animals like water.'"
Some firefighters may even have wanted to act on these ideas; a lawsuit filed by a Black FDNY firefighter early this month in federal court alleges he was suspended after he refused an order from his boss to turn fire hoses on protesters.
According to the report, nine FDNY firefighters were suspended without pay in response to these incidents after Black firefighters complained — with one of those firefighters preparing to leave the department. But this was not the only incident.
"Alonzo Baker, another Black firefighter, filed a complaint with the department stating he was assaulted by a white civilian in the firehouse, who was drinking with white firefighters after hours and called him a racial slur," continued the report. "Another active Black firefighter, who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution, shared an image of a white colleague's social media profile, which The Times independently verified. One meme on the page showed an image of a white man being smothered by a naked Black woman. 'This man can't breathe,' the meme read, 'but you won't see that on the news.'"
This report comes as police departments around the country have been forced to grapple with allegations of racist culture and discriminatory practices. A bipartisan negotiation to try to create national police reform standards recently failed after months of talks.