Florida Rescue Official Reveals Hate Mail

A vulgar and terrifying card sent to a top Jacksonville Fire Rescue official was made public on Tuesday.

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Chief Alonzo McQueen, who is a 17-year veteran and the latest firefighter to come forward after an inflammatory act of hate, said he got a card full of racial slurs and four-letter words in 2004.

McQueen said he was coming forward with the card to show the history of hate crimes against black firefighters in Jacksonville.

The latest incident happened last Friday at a Downtown Fire Station. Police said nooses were left on the equipment of two black firefighters.

McQueen talked about what he called the climate of discrimination on the force.

"It (the card) calls me a world class N. Everybody knows what that is," McQueen said.

The card was sent to headquarters telling McQueen, "Hope you join the widow and orphan club." There was also a picture of a bull's eye and someone with a gunshot wound to the head.

"I hoped we'd advanced and that we don't use those types of words to describe our counterparts. I think it's insensitive and I think it's unprofessional," McQueen said.

McQueen filed a police report on the incident in 2004, bought a gun to protect himself, and just keep doing his job.

However, with more blatant acts of racism coming to the surface, he was ready to tell his story; hoping to bring change.

"We felt like if we didn't, like in the past, it would be swept under the rug. We'd get lip service and then it would continue on as business as usual," McQueen said.

McQueen is one of four African American district chiefs in the department. He has been in that position for five years and said it does not matter how high you climb in the department, the color of your skin can push you back down.

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"Black officers in the department will tell you there are two standards. There are white officers and there are black officers and we do not receive the same respect," McQueen said.

McQueen said he does the same job, puts his life on the line every day just like every other firefighter in the city and he's ready to be treated that way.

"We love this city. We love it so that we're in a dangerous employment, but to treated like this, like you're not a part of that brotherhood, it's disturbing for us."

Tuesday evening Mayor John Peyton sent a letter to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission stating:

The mayor also asked the Human Rights Commission to do the following:

  • Investigate historical discipline practices at the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
  • Identify better policies and procedures for receipt and handling of grievances and complaints.
  • Review recruitment, hiring and advancement practices in the department.
  • Institute and manage a diversity training program for all management.

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