DC Fire & EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe and IAFF Local 36 president Ed Smith were both interviewed on The Politics Hour on WAMU-FM yesterday by show host Kojo Nnamdi and Washington City Paper's Loose Lips columnist Alan Suderman. Among the items discussed were the allegations by department spokesman Lon Walls that a January 24 protest by firefighters was a racist act. Walls has been suspended with pay for five days.
“I think we have to be very careful when it comes to the issue of race, and that’s why Lon was placed on administrative leave, just to give us all time to breathe a minute,” Ellerbe said. “We never want to interject race in an area or an environment where you already have some perceived challenged or even hostilities. That just exacerbated the problem.”
Walls, he continued, “was speaking on his own personal account, but still he is a government official at this point. … We have to have a higher standard for the way we respond personally and professionally.”
In addition, there was more discussion by Ellerbe and Smith over the directive that came out a week ago warning firefighters to behave at Mayor Vincent Gray's State of the District address with the chief continuing to say this was a problem caused by a lieutenant alligned with the union.
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