A Black firefighter in the Rochester Fire Department claims that his fire captain once made him and other firefighters go to a Juneteeth-themed celebration. He says it was a mockery of his culture.
Jarrod Jones, a 14-year veteran of the city’s fire department, is looking for $4 million in damages in court. He has accused Captain Jeffrey Krywy of taking him and three other firefighters to the private event. They were still on their shifts at the time.
The firefighters still had on their uniforms as they went to the residence where the party was going on. It was described to be in “one of the city’s most affluent communities.”
Jones added that he felt very uncomfortable when he witnessed a cutout of ex-President Donald Trump as he was going into the residence.
Additionally, Jones said that he witnessed two big Juneteeth Flags and KFC buckets of chicken. He also saw a woman pretending to be Democratic County legislator Rachel Barnhart in a manner that was “mocking but sexual.”
Jones also says that the images of the woman were put “on stakes” and placed in several locations on the property. Another firefighter stated, “We shouldn’t be here. This is bulls**t.”
Jones was shocked by the racism at the party and remembered a department policy prohibiting attendance of partisan political activities.
He took a leave of absence from work because of emotional distress, he said.
“It cut me very deeply. I’m sorry I even had to be here today. But, as terribly as I’m feeling, I’m glad it happened to me and not someone who could be easily intimidated,” he stated.
Felipe Hernandez, Rochester’s fire chief, has called Jones’ claims “unacceptable and an affront to everyone who works with the department and city hall.”