A Black New York City firefighter has filed a lawsuit against the FDNY for allegedly retaliating against him after he opposed an order to spray George Floyd protesters last year with a fire hose, the New York Daily News reports.
“These defendants sought to muzzle plaintiff and inhibit his speech. They also retaliated against him for his speech … (and) worked collectively to manufacture false claims against the plaintiff,” the 13-page federal lawsuit stated.
Omar Wilks, an eight-year NYFD veteran, alleged that his supervisor directed him and other firefighters to help control protests over the police murder of Floyd “by using the fire truck’s water hose.”
Wilks, who is also an ordained minister “insisted that such an order not be followed.” FDNY officials allegedly suspended Wilks for refusing the order.
It’s a violent tactic that Southern authorities used against Black protesters during the Civil Rights movement. Although it happened decades ago, the images and pain are still fresh in our collective memories.
“Firefighter Wilks was unlawfully punished for seeking to change the culture of discrimination at the FDNY,” Wilks lawyer Aymen Aboushi said. “We will continue to fight for equality and ensure that the FDNY no longer retaliates against its members who do the same.”
Ultimately, the high-pressure hose was not used against the protesters. However, the lawsuit said there were no consequences against the supervisor who wanted to spray the demonstrators.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said the lawsuit is under review and at this point, officials will “let the court process play out before commenting.”