Combating Racism, Sexism at HFD

Crime, Law and JusticeFiresDisasters and AccidentsSocial IssuesU.S. Equal Employment Opportunity CommissionKu Klux KlanKIAH

A civil rights group has united to combat new allegations of racism at Houston Fire Department Station 42.

The Greater Houston Coalition for Justice announced a plan of action to stop what they say is an "unbroken history of racism and sexism."

Their plan involves persuading the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice to take legal action against anyone involved in sexist or racial incidents within HFD.

"Nooses everywhere -- a tool of the Ku Klux Klan -- is a part of the culture of the Houston Fire Department," said Shelby Stewart with the GHCJ. "We can't keep ignoring the obvious."

The obvious, they say, is racism and sexism in HFD.

"What we need is a mayor [who] is going to put her foot down and say she is not going to tolerate that in this town," said Obide Duncantell.

The group Monday called upon all City of Houston leaders to step up after another incident was brought to light.

Sylvia Gonzales with the League of United Latin American Citizens said firefighters at Station 42 went after their comrade, Joseph Salcido, after failing an examination.

"Someone made a rope [and] hung it up with his jacket -- his name on it -- and put a note on it," Gonzales said.

That note, according to Salcido, said the following: "Learn your [expletive] job Mexican. You should be glad that you don't live in Arizona."

It's not the first time we have heard of something like this. In 2009, Jane Draycott and another female firefighter from Station 54 claimed they were harassed after finding racial and sexual slurs on their lockers.

The EEOC released a report last week saying Draycott was subjected to a hostile work environment.

"We will seek termination or criminal prosecutions for [offenders'] hateful actions," civil rights activist Johnny Mata said Monday.

The group wants the discrimination to stop and every incident investigated, even if it means involving the FBI.

Salcido has since been transferred to Station 45, per his request. Houston City Attorney David Feldman issued the following statement Monday:

"We take any allegation of racial harassment very seriously. This matter has been under investigation by the [Office of Inspector General] and it is my understanding that the investigation is near completion. Nothing further can be said until the investigation is complete."

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