Truth Sounds the Best

This story was written with a little misinformation to the average reader in Jacksonville [Cover Story, “Trial by Fire,” Susan Cooper Eastman, May 28]. First, the first class of black firefighters took place in January 1972, not the late 1980s, and many hundreds more were hired prior to the class of ’88. Second, the name Otis was common in the JFRD; it was never a racial slur in any form or fashion. It was used at a Westside fire station for a particular firefighter who had an “O” as his middle initial. The Otis name started in the early fall of 1972, and the name was used by many Westside firefighters. They called everyone Otis. I am not sure what information Folio Weekly used to write the article, but the truth usually sounds the best.

Mickey, via

Right on Point 

The first group of black firefighters actually happened in 1988 and not 1972, because I was in that first class. They may have hired a few blacks in 1972 and thereafter, but the real hiring came in 1988. When I showed up to my first assignment, I was told by my officer that they had not seen this many blacks hired at one time. This article is right on point [“Trial by Fire”]. I know many probably won’t like it, but that’s just the way things were. I do believe things have gotten better, but we still have a way to go.

Dickey, via

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

OK, I have read this entire article [“Trial by Fire”] and have to admit some of this may be true. Some facts I’ve read are that the department’s early hiring practices were definitely on the unfair side; when the original African-Americans were hired, the treatment may not have been the best and there was racism. [But] this doesn’t touch the fact that when many white firefighters tried to apply in the early ’90s, we were met with a sign stating, “White Applicants Need Not Apply.”

A little-known fact: this same Brotherhood fighting for fair promotion of African-American firefighters — and claiming that when they leave, there will be few officers to take their places — sent a letter to the General Counsel’s Office trying to stop promotions. The letter stated there was no need to promote 12 rescue lieutenants to rescue roving captains, replacing the current roving lieutenants and giving them permanent positions. Out of those 12 positions, six were minorities. Out of the minorities, three were African-American, two male and one female. There were also two white females and one Asian male.

How can this organization that claims to be fighting for equality for minorities choose the minorities they represent? If this is the case, then are they not just as guilty as the original crews they’re complaining about? Is this not discrimination? When there is constant complaining of racism and unfair treatment by the same group of African-Americans, don’t you think it might be time to look in the mirror to see if they might be the problem and quit pointing fingers? I have countless African-American friends, both retired and still on the job, who know I’d give them the shirt off my back. I’ve spoken to them; they’ve told me they were never treated unfairly.

Regarding the Fire Department’s promotional process, how is it unfair when the test is announced, everyone finds out the same day, everyone signs up the same time, and everyone finds out what the reading material is at the same time? You then have the same amount of time to study (a minimum of 60 days) and you all take the test the same day. You claim Steve Gerbert had study sessions for whites, and that’s unfair, but how is it different from claims that the Brotherhood meetings were study sessions for African-Americans?

The fact is, the harder you study, the higher you are on the promotional list.

As Rodney King once said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

When is enough going to be enough? All of this suing and bantering back and forth is ruining a great job. The past is the past; let it go and please stop feeding the younger generations with the dislike and anger you currently are exhibiting.



Brown, Mischaracterized

Mayor Alvin Brown, as he said during the press event and multiple prior announcements, repeatedly emphasized the administration’s role is preventing crime [Fightin’ Words, “The Police State Wins,” AG Gancarski, June 4]. While Mr. Gancarski fails to accurately characterize what Mayor Brown did and continues to support, I will.

Mayor Brown has consistently and specifically said his role as mayor is to support law enforcement and lead efforts to prevent crime. That is why the city under his leadership has stepped up with the Youth Initiative that includes hundreds of summer jobs for kids, an enhanced teen court program to support youths, and an expanded civil diversion program with significant investment and participation by the state and nonprofit organizations, as well as the Sheriff’s Office and local authorities. In fact, the initiatives were discussed at the announcement with the sheriff, and at previous events.

The day that [Brown] supported Operation Ceasefire, he also announced more private sector support to provide jobs to our kids. Just this week, Brown and City Council members also announced enhancements to urban park recreation programs, including several within the boundaries of Operation Ceasefire.

I encourage readers, and Mr. Gancarski, to visit to learn more about what actually is occurring. 

David DeCamp

Director of Communications, City of Jacksonville



In last week’s Pet Lovers’ directory, the operating hours for St. Francis Animal Hospital were incorrect. The San Marco nonprofit is open daily, able to provide emergency care until 8 p.m. Also, last week’s Editor’s Note incorrectly reported that Atlantic Beach only allows leashed dogs on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. In fact, leashed dogs are allowed on that city’s beach at any time.