Briarcliffe Volunteer Fire Company has been put on a 30-day suspension after members were accused of making racist comments and mocking Fanta Bility, an 8-year-old girl shot and killed by police, reported NBC News. The matter has been passed to the Delaware County district attorney’s office.
Darby Township solicitor Michael Pierce said the comments were revealed to him in a letter from another local fire company, Goodwill. Goodwill members witnessed Briarcliffe volunteers making racist jokes and comments in a virtual meeting from Jan 27 to discuss combining multiple fire companies.
From NBC News:
They allegedly used racial epithets to describe firefighters — and the fire chief — from another local fire company, the letter says, and they said it was “time to leave” the area because Black people were moving there.
One person allegedly threatened to physically assault members of Goodwill, the letter says, and another joked about Fanta Bility’s name.
Briarcliffe volunteers carried on the conversation with their racist rhetoric for up to two hours, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. It appears they confused this work meeting for a podcast segment.
Fanta Bility was an 8-year-old girl who was shot and killed outside a football game by three officers who falsely identified her family vehicle as a drive-by car. Bility’s family attorney responded to the allegations in a statement, reported NBC.
A lawyer for Fanta’s family, Bruce Castor Jr., said in a statement that her relatives were “appalled” by the allegations.
“A kind and loving girl, Fanta brightened the lives of everyone she met,” the statement said. “To speak of her with such disrespect, shines the light of shame on those people at the fire house making the remarks, and reflects negatively on those good and true first responders who pledge their lives to the service of all members of the community.”
Sen. Anthony Williams said in a news conference that this was an example of “what systemic racism and entrenched racism looks like,” reported the Inquirer. Williams also said this was a betrayal of public trust.
Unfortunately, there is no screening for public service and government positions to filter out racists and bigots. We can just hope people like those from Goodwill will continue to expose them and their actions.