A Florida fire division chief is being accused of using the N-word during a staff meeting to refer to rock concertgoers.
During a meeting with staff, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Marshal Kevin Jones was allegedly discussing Monster Energy’s Welcome To Rockville music festival, which features heavy metal and draws a largely white crowd to Jacksonville's Metropolitan Park.
“The chief said that we can't allow more than 20,000 people in the park and if those ‘N words’ try to put more than that in the park, then they will have to deal with me,” said an email complaint against Jones, who is black himself.
That complaint was made by a fellow firefighter, engineer Stephen A. Crooms, according to Jacksonville.com.
“This was very offensive to me as a black man because of all the racial issues going on within the JFRD,” wrote Crooms.
Jones could face reprimand, suspension or firing over the incident.
Fire Chief Martin Senterfitt says an investigation was launched to determine whether Jones used the word maliciously.
“One side says: There was this real derogatory term used, and it was used toward others,” Senterfitt said. “The other side is: This was just a basic street slang used, and it wasn’t directed at anybody with any intent and it was just a figure of speech.”
“As a community that recognizes diversity, just because people speak or use terminology or street slang that we may not recognize or be part of, that doesn’t mean we automatically attack them for it,” he said. “We have to recognize not everybody’s the same.”
He said the complaint was a surprise because Jones has a good reputation in the department.
“Any use of the word in the workplace needs to be addressed,” he added. “It’s absolutely inappropriate in the workplace.”
Jones is still working for the department during the investigation.