Monday, October 3, 2011

FDNY Racism Confirmed By Federal Judge

A Federal Judge has confirmed that the Fire Department of New York lacks people of color because of a practice of excluding people of color from its ranks.


As we stated a year ago:

Despite extensive and persistent efforts, the FDNY remains a racially discriminatory institution. Our city's fire department is more than 90% white, but Mayor Bloomberg has fought the addition of people of color to our fire department. After a decade of very credible complaints about the racially discriminatory hiring practices at the FDNY, Mayor Bloomberg remained committed to the racially discriminatory approach he led from City Hall. Finally, the Bush Administration's US Justice Department sued New York City in order to combat the racial discrimination that Mayor Bloomberg stubbornly promoted. The Bush Administration won the law suit, but the Bloomberg Administration refused to end its discrimination.

The courts have attempted to guide the Bloomberg administration away from racial discrimination, but they have failed. A federal judge gave Mayor Bloomberg five options for hiring a class of FDNY rookies this year and ending the pattern of racial discrimination. Mayor Bloomberg rejected all five options and decided to hire no FDNY rookies this year.

We are not surprised, but we are saddened to see Mayor Bloomberg put our lives in jeopardy in order to keep the FDNY more than 90% white. We need the additional firefighters, and we need an end to the racial discrimination at the FDNY.

When residents of New York City are facing the terror of a fire, they never demand that only white fire fighters participate in the life saving work that is needed from the FDNY. In fact, our city's residents have not demonstrated Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to racial discrimination. Perhaps the people of our city will raise their voices and demand that our city bring on board the additional fire fighters that our city had planned to hire - and demand that the new hires not be selected in a manner designed to prevent persons of color from joining the FDNY.

Latest Development

Last week, Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued an 81 page opinion stating that Black firefighters had proven their claims that minorities trying to become firefighters suffer disadvantages. The Judge's decision on remedies remains to be declared, but observers expect the Judge to require substantial oversight from outside of the NYC government. Garaufis said, "The court cannot adequately ensure the city’s compliance with applicable equal employment opportunity laws and the absence of court supervision."

In a stinging indictment of NYC's approach to hiring at the FDNY, the Judge wrote:
The under-representation of black firefighters in the FDNY — a direct result and vestige of the city’s pattern and practice of discrimination against black firefighter candidates — is responsible for making blacks significantly less likely to apply to become New York City firefighters. The city’s culture of bureaucratic blame-shifting and accountability avoidance [exposes the fact that] the city does not want to be held accountable for the results of its recruitment efforts. This is unacceptable.
The efforts to keep the FDNY all white are indeed unacceptable and were a key priority of the current NYC Mayor during all ten years of his continuing reign.

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