Firefighters File Civil Rights Lawsuit Against City of Winston-Salem

Firefighters File Civil Rights Lawsuit Against City of Winston-Salem

7:01pm Feb 16, 2021
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

A group of Winston-Salem firefighters has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. Middle District Court of North Carolina last week builds on complaints of racism and discrimination in the department. 

The City of Winston-Salem and current Fire Chief Trey Mayo are named as the defendants in the complaint filed by five Black firefighters.

An attorney for the plaintiffs could not be reached for comment. City Attorney Angela Carmon said the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit. Once it has, the city will respond in the appropriate forum, she said.

The complaint represents only the plaintiffs’ side of the case.

Last fall, a group of Black firefighters filed a grievance with the city. Among the allegations were that two white captains talked about running over demonstrators protesting the police killing of George Floyd, and that a firefighter made a noose during a rope and knots class.

A cultural assessment of the department released in January found that the fire department’s makeup under-represents the diverse nature of the city’s population. 

It also concluded that the department may not have a racist culture, but the actions of some of its employees have been racist.

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