In August 2021, a fire station in Philadelphia came under fire for allegedly mocking the death of an 8-year-old Black kid killed by police in Delaware County.
After audio of members throwing racial obscenities became public, the Briarcliffe Volunteer Fire Company in Delaware County was suspended. According to NBC News, the members also insulted Fanta Bility’s first name by comparing it to the soda.
“Fanta soda, yeah, orange or Fanta grape,” a person can be heard mocking the kid, according to NBC News.
The family of Fanta, according to his lawyer Bruce Castor Jr., is “appalled” by the claimed statements.
“A kind and loving girl, Fanta brightened the lives of everyone she met,” Castor said in a statement, according to NBC News. “To speak of her with such disrespect shines the light of shame on those people at the firehouse making the remarks and reflects negatively on those good and true first responders who pledge their lives to the service of all members of the community.”
After the firefighters forgot to disconnect from a virtual meeting, the chat was purportedly videotaped. The disrespectful remarks began after other people left the teleconference, according to Michael Pierce, an attorney for Darby Township.
“Suddenly, there was the sound of a group of people discussing the meeting while using foul inappropriate language,” Pierce said, Raw Story reports.
As reported by ABC6, the intended purpose of the conversation was to discuss the possibility of merging the services of the Briarcliffe, Goodwill, and other local fire departments.
The Goodwill firefighters filmed the dialogue, unbeknownst to the Briarcliffe firefighters.
“A bunch of f**king n***ers down there,” one man is heard saying about the all-Black Darby Township Fire Company.
“He’s just a piece of s**t,” one person added, talking about Darby’s fire chief.
The firefighters in Briarcliffe have also been accused of implying that Black firefighters are lazy and that there are too many Black people in the region.
“That’s the f**king problem,” one Briarcliffe firefighter allegedly said. “Blacks are taking over s**t.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Darby Township commissioners agreed to suspend Briarcliffe Fire Company and asked the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office to investigate the call for possible criminal charges for hate speech.