Racial Tensions Rise Among White Fire...

Racial Tensions Rise Among White Firefighters

Posted in the China Forum


Brooklyn, NY

#1 Oct 2, 2012
More than 200 white firefighters rallied Monday outside a Brooklyn courthouse against the court-ordered fix for the FDNY entrance exam — but a hearing being held inside on the controversy was an almost total bust.
Only 36 of the 180 scheduled speakers showed up to object directly to Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis on the first of four days of hearings.
Garaufis has ordered a variety of solutions to create a more diverse department, including retroactive seniority and priority hiring of 293 minorities.
Each speaker inside, mostly current firefighters, was allowed two minutes to vent.
“Seniority was earned in the dead of night when these benefactors were home sleeping,” said firefighter Matthew Bland, a nine-year veteran.
“I am concerned for the future of my department ... Standards must remain high,” said Chief Nicholas Corrado, the highest-ranking FDNY officer to testify.
“I feel I'm being discriminated against because I'm Caucasian,” firefighter Michael Butt said.
The judge has blocked out his entire calendar through Thursday for a so-called Fairness Hearing, but he was able to adjourn Monday’s proceeding at 11 a.m. after the list of speakers was exhausted.
The FDNY, which is 89% white, is facing sweeping changes in the way it recruits and hires firefighters in the wake of a federal lawsuit filed in 2007 by the U.S. Justice Department and the Vulcan Society of black firefighters.
In response to the suit, Garaufis ruled that tests given in 1999 and 2002 discriminated against minorities. He junked a third hiring list and made a finding that the city had intentionally discriminated against black and Hispanic FDNY applicants for years.
After devising a new entrance exam and spending millions on recruitment efforts, a record number of minorities took the test last spring and nearly half scored 97 or better, making them likely to be considered for hiring.
Outside court, members of the Vulcan Society and their lawyers said the speakers inside have their facts all wrong.
“To stand here and say that the people who are going to be hired are unqualified is false,” said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "They are going to have to pass the same screening tests as anyone else."
Later, there were dueling press conferences by the Vulcan Society and Battalion Chief Paul Mannix, who opposes Garaufis’ remedies and argued “we are here in support of standards and safety for all of New York City."

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