A Black firefighter in upstate New York says a fire captain brought him and other firefighters to a racist party that included fried chicken buckets and cognac party favors.
Jerrod Jones, a 14-year veteran of the Rochester Fire Department, is seeking $4 million in damages after Captain Jeffrey Krywy took him and three other firefighters to the private party last month during their shifts, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
Jones, in a notice of claim, said the fire crew was dressed in uniform when they arrived at a large home in “one of the city’s most affluent communities.”
This made the firefighter feel “immediately uneasy” as he walked up to the house and saw a cutout of former President Donald Trump, Jones said.
He also said he spotted two large Juneteenth flags, KFC buckets of chicken and a woman impersonating Democratic county legislator Rachel Barnhart in a “mocking but sexual” way, according to the claim.
Jones said he spotted photos of local Democratic politicians “on stakes” on the property as a fellow firefighter told him “we shouldn’t be here, this is bullshit.”
The firefighter, according to the claim, was concerned over racism at the event and recalled the fire department’s rule barring attendance of partisan political events.
Jones later said the event included party favors with a small cognac bottle along with a Juneteenth-themed cup.
The firefighter said he remarked to other firefighters that he felt like he was in the movie “Get Out.” Jones later recognized one party guest as someone who he believed “was a senior member” of the Rochester Police Department.
A woman who Jones believed was hosting the party later allegedly offered him chicken before replying, “You sure? It’s KFC” when Jones declined it.
Jones complained to an acting battalion chief the next day. However, he was assigned to work alongside Krywy four days after his report.
Jones has since been on leave for fearing retaliation and suffering emotional distress.
“It cut me very deeply; I’m sorry I even have to be here today,” Jones said. “But as terribly as I’m feeling, I’m glad it happened to me and not someone who could be easily intimidated.”
Rochester Fire Chief Felipe Hernandez said Jones’ claims were “unacceptable and an affront to everyone who works with the [Rochester Fire Department] and in City Hall.”
He added that an internal investigation has “finished” and Krywy continues to be suspended. Jones is hoping for an independent investigation into the situation.