HFD cadet sparks noose investigation

July 24, 2009 7:04:19 PM PDT
The noose is a symbol of hatred to many people. That's why a Houston Fire Department cadet, accused of making one, is no longer with the department. For 150 years the Houston Fire Department has prided itself on having the finest men and women as firefighters, sensitive to those whose lives they fight to save. But it was some consider an insensitive act that got a cadet removed from the academy.

"We had a cadet that put a noose on a Gatorade bottle," explained HFD Chief Jack Williams.

The cadet then waved the bottle and the noose around in front of other trainees.

Chief Williams said, "You know, if you put 30 or 40 people together, it doesn't matter if everybody agrees, somebody's not going to like something. This was a very inappropriate act. So, they reported it. That's what they should have done."

Chief Williams is not releasing the name of the cadet, only saying that he resigned in the middle of the investigation, which called for the cadet to be removed from the program.

The president of the Houston chapter of the NAACP says she is tired of hearing about stories involving a noose.

"It's really beginning to affect our community, and our younger generation," said Carol Mims Galloway.

Galloway says the meaning of a noose is one of hatred and intolerance.

She said, "When we look back on history and you see the hurt and the devastation it was for African Americans, why would you want to continue to display this kind of behavior?"

Repeating history is not what the Houston Fire Department wants to do.

"There's one goal that we have, and that's take care of life and property," said Chief Williams. "We can't have these kinds of attitudes in our fire department."

The NAACP does applaud HFD for moving so quickly and removing the cadet from the academy. They also feel more sensitivity training is needed in schools, public and private companies, and with public offices.

A resolution condemning the hanging noose has stalled in Congress, even though there's widespread support for the legislation. Congressman Al Green is the main sponsor of the "hangman's noose bill." The proposed legislation declares the hanging of nooses "a horrible act when used for the purpose of intimidation." The legislation carries no legal weight, but it has support from the NAACP, LULAC and the American Jewish committee.

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