MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters has released a statement in response to the finding of a brown figurine found hanging by a pink looped ribbon in a Milwaukee fire station.
According to a news release on Feb. 13, Milwaukee Fire Department administration "was alerted to the presence" of the figurine. Which firehouse was not revealed by MFD officials.
MFD officials said an internal investigation began immediately, and upon being questioned, "the member responsible for bringing the figurine into the fire station and displaying it in the manner described self-identified."
The Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters said in a statement, "We understand the firefighter who put up the noose admitted doing so, but said no offense was intended. This is hard to believe and if it is true it is a strong signal that some major re-education is needed, especially if this firefighter and every other firefighter who saw it do not see a problem with it. Remember we are citizens of a country with a history of racism and lynching Black people."
The statement goes on to read, "We should be better than this."
MFD officials said on Sunday, June 28 following the internal investigation, charges were drawn up "and are scheduled to be read this week." Additionally, officials said "numerous members will have letters of reprimand placed in their files, memorializing their failure to maintain good order."
Complete statement of the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters
The Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters would be remiss not to respond to the appalling events in February 2020 within a Milwaukee firehouse. We are also concerned about the African American firefighter who had to endure the atrocity when a firefighter hung a black baby figurine by the neck with a pink (rope) and attached it in a high traffic area of the firehouse. The depicted “hanging” was allowed to stay there for four days with three different shifts of firefighters seeing it.
We understand the firefighter who put up the noose admitted doing so, but said no offense was intended. This is hard to believe and if it is true it is a strong signal that some major re-education is needed, especially if this firefighter and every other firefighter who saw it do not see a problem with it. Remember we are citizens of a country with a history of racism and lynching Black people.
Without question, it is time to diversify the seats at the selection table and review the standards of training and retention. This includes input in the following areas.
The Fire Department should be a direct reflection of the community it serves. The Brotherhood of Firefighters stands with all Firefighters who are affected by this racist act, even those who are not of African American heritage. There must be a change in the department culture at all levels. The negative effects of racist behavior that is often ignored is often followed by discrimination and disenfranchisement which has gone on far too long and has become far too acceptable. The Milwaukee Fire Department should immediately begin the process of making it clear that there is no place for this type of behavior in the fire department ranks. We should be better than this.
All firefighters must be required to attend a class/training on the following: