In a claim filed Thursday, Jerrod Jones—a Black firefighter in Rochester—said that his captain Jeffrey Krywy pressured him and his peers to attend a racist party. The gathering took place in a wealthy neighborhood of the city. Jones, who is a 14-year department veteran, is currently on leave due to fear of retaliation and emotional distress.
He says upon entering the party in a 9,800 square foot mansion, there was a cardboard cutout of former President Donald Trump. According to Jones’ attorney, Nate McMurray, firefighters aren’t allowed to participate in partisan political events while on duty.
Somehow, things managed to get even more racist. Jones claims there was also a Juneteenth display which blatantly mocked the holiday. It featured Juneteenth flags hanging above buckets of fried chicken.
“It cut me very deeply; I’m sorry I even have to be here today,” Jones stated Thursday at a press conference that took place at Rochester’s City Hall. “But as terribly as I’m feeling, I’m glad it happened to me and not someone who could be easily intimidated.”
Additionally, there was a woman at the party who impersonated Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart and performed a sexually provocative Burlesque dance. There were also images of Democratic politicians attached to stakes in the yard.
“I decided to speak up today because I have two children who maybe one day will aspire to become firefighters, and I don’t want them to experience what I experienced,” Jones said. After his internal complaint was ignored, his new notice of claim is seeking $4 million in damages from the city.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Rochester Fire Chief Felipe Hernandez called the allegations “unacceptable and an affront to everyone who works with the RFD and in City Hall.” He said the internal investigation was finished and Krywy remains suspended “until the action has been received and accepted.”