Rochester firefighter: People at party mocked Juneteenth and county leaders

[anvplayer video=”5128069″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — At a conference outside of City Hall, Rochester firefighter Jerrod Jones said his captain took him to a party that mocked Juneteenth and county leaders.

Nate McMurray, the attorney for Jones, said that someone at the party was impersonating County Legislator Rachel Barnhart acting in a sexual manner. McMurray, also said people at the party mocked Juneteenth by celebrating with fried chicken and there were images of elected officials on the ground with spikes through them.

Jones, his attorney, Barnhart, and other officials spoke at the conference on Thursday. Jones, who has been at the Rochester Fire Department for 14 years, said he filed a complaint against his captain because he wanted to see a change in how firefighters address discrimination.

Jones, who is a Black firefighter, said what he saw at the party “cut him very deeply.” He said that he wants to see a change in the fire department that he loves.

The attorney for Jones said that he will interview people who were at the party as part of an investigation. He said that first responders, such as firefighters and police officers, are prohibited from engaging with groups that advocate for violence, racism, or hate.

Barnhart thanked Jones for his courage of speaking up. She said that Jones did what firefighters are supposed to do by reporting a dangerous situation and taking action to resolve it. Barnhart said the impersonation of her was intended to disrespect her and take away her credibility.

Robin Wilt, member of the Brighton Town Board, said she supported Jones and will continue her work to fight against discrimination.

The Rochester Fire Department Chief issued a statement on Thursday calling accusations against the behavior of the fire captain ‘serious’ and ‘unacceptable’.

Rochester Fire Chief Felipe Hernandez issued the following statement in advance of the news conference.

The City of Rochester immediately initiated an internal investigation when a City firefighter raised a complaint of employee misconduct by his supervisor. The allegations are serious, and the behavior described is unacceptable and an affront to everyone who works with the RFD and in City Hall. The administration moved swiftly in adherence with Civil Service requirements. The investigation has concluded, and the disciplinary action was sent to the supervisor this week. The supervisor remains on suspension until the action been received and accepted. This remains an active personnel matter, so we cannot comment further.