I hold the utmost respect, gratitude, and loyalty towards first responders who do not harbor abhorrent views, and extend all of that appreciation and more to the brave people who died on September 11th, 2001 trying to save lives. But as so many fire-fighters and cops were found to be insurrectionists, I thought this piece was worth writing.
The FDNY, made famous for its, as I mentioned, members who committed the ultimate sacrfifice, maintained a training manual for years designed to keep what one might term, a homogenous force, or one might also term, a white male force.
Up until 2019, fire departments managers received this guidance in a training memo that had originally been written in 1997. “Motivation in firefighting is largely a matter of team building,” one portion of the memo read, according to the Times. “Team building encounters special problems when the team has to readjust to new members, minorities or females, or members who are problems because they do not behave.”
I have never heard of adults in a professional setting referred to as, “not behaving.” I have never seen an actual manual actively attempt to discourage the hiring of minorities or women. This does both. But I suppose part of what rattles me, is that this is not some old relic of history, overlooked and forgotten about, until an investigator stumbled upon it looking for The Lost Treasure of Staten Island-no, I was 20 years old when this was written: 1997.
Firefighting is also an overwhelmingly white field.
More than 80% of all firefighters in the country are white, according to research from 2018. In Kansas City, firefighters have been segregated by race for years, including as recently as 2020, according to a year-long investigation conducted by the Kansas City Star.
There is important related context here.
The New York City Fire Department has informed the FBI of allegations that members of the firefighting force stormed the Capitol building Wednesday as part of a pro-Trump mob. In a statement, FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer said, “The Department received anonymous allegations that active or retired members were present at the events at the United States Capitol on January 6 and, as required, has provided that information to the FBI.” Many of the rioters took photos and livestreamed the destruction, leaving a digital trail of their identities tied to the violence. Federal prosecutors have since filed charges against more than a dozen people involved.
Again there is no broad brush here, except that a toxic work environment led by toxic management structure in some cases led to racial and gender toxicity. We must note the many thousands of firefighters in this nation that did not participate in insurrection, that welcome people of color and women with open arms, and serve selflessly.
Likewise we must also ask the question as to who wrote this manual, in the era where Bill Clinton was President, who approved it, and how in 22 years was it not questioned? These are all sticky questions, worthy of investigation, and a matter that must be honestly and transparently evaluated.
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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.