Latino group seeks meeting with mayor after sex toy incident at Denver firefighters ball

Denver's fire chief resigned after an incident this year echoed last year's ball featuring a sex toy with a "Latino caricature" on its box


Conrad Swanson
The Denver Post

DENVER — The Colorado Latino Forum has called for a meeting with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to discuss the “long history of discrimination” in the city’s Department of Public Safety, which the group says culminated in the recent resignation of the fire chief.

“Our young Latinos are going to be disillusioned with this profession and not want to pursue being a firefighter or being a part of the Denver Fire Department in some way,” said forum spokesperson Xochitl Gaytan. “As the mother of two sons, they would highly consider other professions knowing that this continues to happen.”

The Colorado Latino Forum has requested a meeting with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to discuss concerns about discrimination in the city's Deparment of Public Safety. The request comes after an incident at last year's firefighters ball that reportedly involved a sex toy box featuring a
The Colorado Latino Forum has requested a meeting with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to discuss concerns about discrimination in the city's Deparment of Public Safety. The request comes after an incident at last year's firefighters ball that reportedly involved a sex toy box featuring a "Latino caricature," which the forum says disparaged a high-ranking Latino firefighter. (Photo/Denver Fire Department Facebook)

The invitation to Hancock is meant to discuss the next steps after Fire Chief Eric Tade officially steps down to an assistant chief position later this month, Gaytan said.

Hancock spokesperson Michael Strott said the mayor’s office will take the invitation under advisement.

Tade’s resignation came after the second annual union-sponsored firefighters ball in a row reportedly involved coarse and sexually suggestive humor.

After last year’s ball, Tade had promised Hancock the inappropriate behavior wouldn’t happen again.

Not only was the behavior at last year’s party sexual in nature, but it also disparaged a certain high-ranking Latino firefighter, Gaytan said. And it continued this year.

“It’s clearly on the box of this dildo … a Latino man, a Latino caricature. Clearly they’re referring to the dildo as a Latino,” she said. “And then they turn around and decide that they’re going to continue with this inappropriate behavior at this event.”

Former forum co-chair Lisa Calderón confirmed that Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca — for whom she works as a spokesperson — received a complaint this year that a comment about a sex toy was made within the presence of the same high-ranking Latino firefighter.

CdeBaca’s office is looking to participate in the closed-door meeting with the Colorado Latino Forum as well, Calderón said.

More work is needed beyond Tade’s demotion to fix the systemic problems within the department, Gaytan said — especially since he will remain in a high-ranking position there.

Tade could not be reached for comment.

“We would want a person of color, a Latino or a Latina, to be at the helm,” Gaytan said. “That new person will then be able to disseminate a whole new work environment and work culture that would be more appropriate and equitable.”

Tade was the third Denver public safety department head to leave in six months, prompting CdeBaca to remark that the department appears to be “imploding.” Sheriff Patrick Firman and Troy Riggs, public safety director, also resigned.

———

©2020 The Denver Post

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Get FIRE CHIEF in your inbox

Thanks! You've been successfully signed up for the Fire Chief Newsletter

Copyright © 2020 firerescue1.com. All rights reserved.