The African-American Firefighters and Paramedics League of Chicago is demanding the firing of Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago and a federal probe into the hiring practices at the city's fire department.
The group contends too few African-American firefighters are being hired by the department, and Santiago has failed to adequately address the situation.
Additionally, those with the organization say African-American firefighters are disproportionately impacted by disciplinary actions.
"We have to address the fact that there have been so few minority hirings on the job," the league's president Gregory Boggs told reporters Thursday. "We want the Justice Department to come in before any new hiring is done. African Americans are being disciplined much more often than anyone else. We're calling on the mayor to do something about this."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke in support of Santiago on Thursday.
"Jose Santiago did a tremendous job at OEMC and a tremendous job, as not only a firefighter, but leading the Fire Department. He has shown that day-in and day-out when you have fires or other types of emergencies, he has a real professional operation," the mayor said.
Emanuel's office also released the following statement in response to the concerns raised by the group of African-American firefighters and paramedics:
The Mayor and the Commissioner agree that the equal treatment and equal opportunity the League calls for are critically important. That is why we have taken important steps to ensure the makeup of department better reflects the makeup of the city, including welcoming a new class of firefighters that had been wrongly shut out of the fire department in previous decades. Additionally, it's important to note that CFD is already under DOJ oversight with respect to their promotional tests since 1980. Beyond that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been investigating CFD since August 2012, and CFD has been partnering closely with them on their work.