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Group of minority firefighters says nothing has changed since commission found probable discrimination in Cleveland Fire

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 20:47:50-04

CLEVELAND — Across the country folks are marching, making signs and yelling from the rooftops for police reform and more diverse departments.

Here in Cleveland, some members of the Cleveland Division of Fire have been demanding this for years.

"We’re not asking for anything anymore, we’re telling you what we need,” said Tyree Thompson, a fire captain for the Cleveland Division of Fire.

There was a four-year investigation into the Cleveland Division of Fire by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A little over six months ago, it found probable discrimination in the department, a ruling the City of Cleveland disagreed with.

In addition to being a captain, Thompson is the president of Vanguards of Cleveland, an association for Black and Hispanic Firefighters. Capt. Thompson says since the findings, nothing has changed.

"The city is actively trying to hire 40 cadets right now, of those 40 maybe three are minority, maybe three,” he said.

They have a new list of demands, some of the most impactful include:

  • 1 in every 3 hires should be a minority
  • More women firefighters, right now there’s only two and one of them is set to retire this year
  • MLK training academy that’s geared towards CMSD students to be re-established
  • Current applicant pool paused until more people of color can join the class

Capt. Thompson says he has a hard time recruiting minorities because so many of them take the tests, pass and never hear from the department again.

"People tell us we’re not serious, ya’ll are not going to hire any women, you’re not going to hire any minorities cause you don’t so it’s hard for us to convince people to take a test when they know that they’re not going to get hired, so we need to change that, they don’t trust us,” he said.

"Council can come out with legislation to make sure that our children, our future and the stakeholders in Cleveland are getting these jobs,” said Myran Jackson, the Vice President of Vanguards of Cleveland.

Here’s what the Vanguards want from city council:

  • Open an investigation into the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Civil Service for hiring misconduct
  • Pass legislation to make Cleveland Fire hire diverse applicants

City Council President Kevin Kelley released the following statement:

“We are very aware of the issue, we are taking this very seriously. There are good plans and good intentions and it does not seem to be getting us where we need to be and we’ll continue to look at this.”

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