4.14.2010

Houston activists keeping the heat on the Houston Fire Department's racial issues

(Deric Muhammad address the Houston media | Photos by Jesse Muhammad)
Last year was a horrendous time for the Houston Fire Department and looks like this year is not going to get any better. Why? Because community activists like Deric Muhammad, Deloyd Parker, Kofi Taharka, Quanell X, Shelby Stewart, and members of the Houston Black Firefighters Association refuse to let things get swept under the rug.

On April 7, they all gathered at the historic S.H.A.P.E. Community Center on Live Oak Street to make a united statement to the press about their stance on what they call "unresolved issues" in the department.

"We have not forgotten. It has been nearly a year since Black leaders held a press conference demanding the resignation of a White Houston Fire Department captain who displayed a noose in his work locker. Much has transpired since that time," said Deric Muhammad. He called the dept. a bee hive for racism.

(A coalition of Black leaders standing together)

He then reminded the press and those in attendance of the string of racial incidents that took place within the department in 2009 that led to a massive rally outside city hall calling for a zero tolerance policy. Those incidents included sexists and racist graffiti being written on the locker room wall of two female firefighters at HFD Station 54.

"We're still outraged about it now. Recently the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who investigated the Office of Inspector General's investigation regarding this particular case, has come forward and said that there are no suspects in this case. With all of the modern technology a Hubble telescope can count the dust balls on a planet like Mars and you mean to tell me you can't find who wrote that on the wall at Station 54? Something is wrong with that picture," said Mr. Muhammad.

"Former Mayor Bill White sat by and did nothing! Rick Flanagan you sat by and watched this investigation go to hell. Why should we support you in your ambition to be fire chief? We couldn't get a word out of you then and we can't get a word out you now," said Mr. Muhammad.

(Deloyd Parker, founder of S.H.A.P.E. Community Center)

"We want Mayor Annise Parker to know--if you have the flatulent thought of making Rick Flanagan the Houston Fire Department's chief, we beg that you call your doctor. He does not represent us and he never will," said Mr. Muhammad.

"We stand in solidarity with all of the demands that have been stated today," said Mr.Taharka, who is the chairman of The National Black United Front.

"We would be naive to believe that the FBI found nothing. We would be naive to believe that the Inspector General's office found nothing. They have just chosen to tell the community nothing," said Quanell X.

The coalition of leaders called for a city-wide community hearing to address all of the unresolved cases on April 21 at S.H.A.P.E.'s facility located on Almeda. They are inviting Mayor Parker, Mr. Flanagan, and other city officials.

The flames of racism continue.


(Quanell X speaking to the press)
(Community elders)
(Activist and former HPD officer Shelby Stewart)
(Retired firefighter Alvin James addressing the press)
(Community elder and activist Ester King (c))
(Kofi Taharka of the National Black United Front)
(Elder Mother Dember speaking to the press)
(Community elder)
(Deric Muhammad in serious mode)