GARY, Ind. — Accusations of racism within the Gary Fire Department have gotten enough steam to get the mayor involved.
Mayor Jerome Prince, who is African-American, said Monday he fully supports fire chief Sean O’Donnell who has been on the receiving end of accusations of racism by others within the city’s fire department.
“Apparently there are people within the ranks of our fire department and in and out of positions of authority within the city of Gary who have decided to wrongfully judge others,” Prince said. “Not by the content of their character, but by other factors not important to their work.”
O’Donnell said the whole thing started over a conversation he had with another firefighter, who is black, in which he asked them to “wear proper uniform attire.” That has led some to accuse O’Donnell of racism.
“Recently, some of my brothers and sisters have taken up another calling,” O’Donnell said. “They went on social media and in our firehouse spreading vitriolic rhetoric about who they think should be the fire chief based on skin color … and spreading a false narrative that I do not support black culture.”
Both men did not elaborate on exactly what was said about Chief O’Donnell. Mayor Prince is calling for an end to the rumors accusing those who are spreading them of harming the moral and rank-and-file of the fire department’s leadership.