Houston Fire Department Battles Another Racism Allegation, Assuming You Think Graffiti Saying "Die Nigger" Is Racist
The Houston Police Department began a full-scale hate-crime investigation this morning after a pair of women firefighters discovered racist and sexist graffiti scribbled all over the locker doors in the women's dressing quarters at Station 54 at Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Houston Fire Department Executive Assistant Chief Rick Flanagan described the comments on the lockers as "so distasteful, so painful, so despicable." Chief Phil Boriskie said that this behavior is "not indicative of the men and women of the Houston Fire Department, nor is it tolerated. I'm angry, disappointed, embarrassed and bothered."
Neither Flanagan nor Boriskie would say what exactly was written, however Isiah Carey of FOX 26 News has reported that the words "Nigger Lover," "Die Bitch" and "Die Nigger" were on the walls and on a bed in the women's dormitory.
Flanagan said that the two female firefighters arrived at Station 54 at about 6:30 a.m. and found the graffiti. The women then reported it and Flanagan immediately called in the police to investigate. "This is an act of hate," said Flanagan. "This is a crime. We want the people responsible for this brought to justice."
Capt. David Watkins of HPD said investigators are in the process of interviewing firefighters and looking for evidence, such as fingerprints and handwriting samples. Flanagan said that there are no surveillance cameras in the area where the graffiti was found. In addition, said Flanagan, no one can get into the station without having the proper clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, as the station is located at Bush Intercontinental Airport.
This is not the first time HFD has been forced to deal with racism in a firehouse. In February, an apparent noose was found hanging in the locker of a HFD captain. The incident caused further controversy when the captain was not disciplined to the satisfaction of many firefighters. Flanagan said the captain only received a disciplinary note in his file. Flanagan addressed the issue this morning by saying, "We have had scenarios in the past that mimicked this. We want to show how aggressive we will be at addressing this."
Rev. James Nash of the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Sunnyside asked for peace amongst the community while the police investigate. "I don't want to see this city torn apart," Nash said.
Flanagan said that there had been no prior incidents like the one this morning at Station 54. Boriskie said in no uncertain terms that this was a fireable offense.
Jeffrey Caynon, President of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association said, ""If the allegations made today about a Houston Fire Department station are proved to be true, the HPFFA would support the enforcement of appropriate disciplinary action. Our nearly 4,000 members strongly agree that our workplace must be fair and free from discrimination and harassment."