Only Black Firefighter Recruit Taunted With Noose Hanging on His Seat by White Classmates

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Only Black Firefighter Recruit Taunted With Noose Hanging on His Seat by White Classmates

None of the men fessed up about who put the rope on Vilbert Green's desk.

Published August 10, 2017

A Florida firefighter recruit was fired while three others resigned after a noose was found hanging on the seat on the only Black firefighter in the program, according to fire officials. 

According to the Sun-Sentinel, the Pompano Beach Fire Department conducted an investigation into the noose, which was found at the Pompano Beach Fire Training Center. The department concluded their investigation Wednesday.

Pompano Beach Fire Chief John Jurgle said that, last month, he was made aware of the noose, which targeted Vilbert Green, the only Black recruit in a class of six. The noose was found June 7 on the recruits’ last day of training, Jurgle told the Sentinel.

“It’s a very serious, unfortunate incident that happened,” Jurgle said. “We’re professional firefighters. We’re not going to tolerate this kind of thing.”

As a result of the investigation, recruit Matthew Reilly was fired and Kerop Berberian, Geandy Perez and Austin Sovay all resigned. 

The noose was found when Green left the room to complete his cleanup task. When he returned, he found the racist symbol hanging over his chair, next to his nametag. He then snapped a picture of it and showed it to another firefighter later on.  

According to Jurgle, after seeing the picture, the unnamed firefighter was offended and tried to talk to the recruits himself. However, they said they did not know anything about it.  

The recruits’ denial led the firefighter to report it to the captain in charge of training, who took it to Jurgle.

“If I had an incident like this happen, it’s my duty to investigate it,” Jurgle told the Sun-Sentinel.

Based on the investigation, Jurgle determined Perez tied the knot, but no one 'fessed up to placing it on Green’s station. Jurgle was troubled that none of the men would take accountability for the action.

“I heard the word ‘joke’ a lot and I said, ‘Explain the joke to me, explain how this is funny,’” Jurgle said. “They haven’t been able to do that.”

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Getty Images)

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