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Voices From the Community

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Black Firefighters

Cities and counties hire who they want to hire. They find a way to locate, recruit, hire, train, and retain the people that they want in city and county positions. Department heads will carry out the wishes of management. (It is called CYA).

Cities in California have a long history of saying “we can not find qualified Black applicants.” Some of us know first hand that many Black men have applied for firefighter positions but were never selected. After two or three years of being denied employment opportunities they must move on to another locale because they must provide for self and family.

There have been many cases of a city hiring one Black person as a firefighter then pushing him out because “he did not measure up.” The practice of hiring one Black firefighter can no longer suffice. The one almost always gets smashed like an annoying bug. The right thing to do is to hire some Black firefighters. We must let city hall know that we are not satisfied with the status quo. We must become advocates for each other after we proclaim our own individual freedom. The struggle is on going.

Sylvester McGill
Bloomington, CA

Tyisha Miller

I know it don’t sound good when the letter starts out with, “I done told you so,” but I did. I expressed my views last month in reference to arriving at a settlement with the Riverside police officers involved in the Miller shooting. I feel the community was not united in their effort and there were “too many cooks in the kitchen.” After the shooting, it appeared that everyone wanted a piece of the action.

There was the Use of Force panel that gave the City of Riverside a list of their demands. The Miller Steering Committee also had a list of demands. The local ministers made their demands known. Then there was the Riverside Citizens For Police Accountability Committee voicing their demands to the city during council meetings. And later on, the “Freeway 20” also came up with demands of their own.

You then had others like the Rev. Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory, and Johnnie Cochran making demands in front of the cameras when they hit town. With all these people making demands, who is the City of Riverside suppose to negotiate with? Everyone thought they were doing the right thing, but that was not the case. I see the Riverside Chapter of the NAACP is now taking the lead in this matter, which is what should have happened from the beginning.

The NAACP is the oldest civil rights organization in the United States, and should have been included from day one. The local leaders should have met with the NAACP and have the NAACP be the spokesman for the entire community, and everyone should have agreed on a list of demands to present to the City of Riverside.

But now it’s too late, a Superior Court Judge has issued a court order to reinstate officer Stewart. Like I said, if you think those in power in the police department and city hall are going to throw away their pensions and go to jail for refusing to allow Officer Stewart back on to the force, your wrong. And if the city refuses to reinstate Officer Stewart per the court order, then Officer Stewart could sue the City of Riverside, and that would be rewarding him because Officer Stewart now has the protection of the court and would receive a monetary award.

And let’s not forget there are two other officers looking to get reinstated and they will argue that if Stewart can get reinstated, so can they. There is a difference between a settlement and a reward and the community should have reached a settlement with the officers, but I am afraid that it’s now too late.

David Anthony
Moreno Valley

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