FDNY diversity official said that excluding a firefighter from a ceremonial color guard based on his skin color “most definitely” acceptable, new report reveals.
Cecilia Loving, FDNY’s chief diversity and inclusion officer defends the decision to exclude Lt. Daniel McWilliams off a color-guard procession so that it remains all – black.
McWilliams was one of the three firefighters in the iconic 9/11 Ground Zero flag-raising photo, and has filed an equal employment opportunity complaint since.
The lieutenant showed up at the 2017 memorial mass to honor deceased members of the Vulcan Society, a black FDNY firefighters’ fraternal group, and was denied to hold a flag in the color guard.
Regina Wilson, Vulcan Society president at the time of the incident, asked McWilliams to lend a “help in a different capacity” because he is not black.
Loving has showed up and testified at a state Division of Human Rights trial to defend against McWilliams’ complaint, and said that there is nothing wrong with Wilson’s decision.
Keith Sullivan, the lawyer representing McWilliams, questioned the decision to request for an all-black color guard and calls it discriminatory, in which Loving replied that it is rather, “most definitely” acceptable.
Loving argued that replacing a white member with an African-American is a move to “uplift our identities and our separate ethnicities in order to instill a sense of pride and community and support for one another.”
Sullivan argued in a written brief that McWilliams’s rejection is “deplorable” and an evidence of a stark double standard in the FDNY.
“If you’re black and you discriminate against a white person in the workplace, you get a slap on the wrist at best. A white person who discriminates gets “heavy-handed discipline and punishment.”
“The FDNY has created a policy and procedure for bending over backwards, coming up with excuses and accommodating members of the Vulcan Society … who commit racist acts, and it has to stop,” Sullivan wrote.