Milwaukee FFs to be disciplined for figurine hanging at station
The Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters released a statement this week about the February incident
By Laura French
MILWAUKEE — After Milwaukee fire officials announced this weekend that firefighters involved in hanging a brown figurine at the fire station will be disciplined, the city's Black firefighters' organization released a statement about the incident.
The figurine was discovered in February hanging from a pink ribbon tied around its neck in a "high-traffic area of the firehouse" and had been there for four days, according to the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters. The incident was first reported publicly in a Milwaukee Fire Department news release on Sunday, according to FOX6 News.
According to the department's release, an investigation was started immediately after the discovery of the figurine, and charges against multiple department members have been drawn up and will be finalized this week.
"We should be better than this," the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters wrote in its statement, which called for a review of training and retention standards and more diverse voices giving input into training, hiring, promotion and retainment practices.
"We understand that 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," the group stated. "Remember we are citizens of a country with a history of racism and lynching Black people."
The statement concluded with a request for all firefighters to attend required training on diversity, cultural competency, implicit bias and "using common sense."
A family member of a Black, female Milwaukee firefighter who had recently joined the station previously told WISN 12 that she believed her relative was targeted in the incident.
The Milwaukee Fire Department said in its statement that its investigation did not reveal "a deliberate or intentional racist or sexist intent, nor an effort to target any individual member or group" but that the incident revealed a failure "to maintain and reinforce an environment and culture within which an occurrence such as this would instantly be questioned and stopped," FOX6 News previously reported.
The department said it is working with the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters to implement department-wide anti-harassment training in the near future.