Black Firefighter’s Home Burned Down After Racist Threat
Two days after getting a racist letter threatening him if he didn’t quit, a black volunteer firefighter’s house was burned down in an upstate New York town.
On Monday, Kenneth Walker received a racist threat that if he didn’t resign from the North Tonawanda fire department, he would “regret it.”
Walker is the only black volunteer firefighter in the department.
While he and his wife were at work, and his children were out of the house, flames broke out at Walker’s home on Wednesday afternoon, where he had lived for more than two years. No one was hurt in the blaze, but Walker is still mourning his two cats’ death in the fire.
The racist letter used the N-word throughout several times, hatefully telling Walker that “n—–s are not allowed to be firefighters. No one wants you in this city,” WGRZ reported.
The family said they lost everything in the fire, the station reported.
Despite the anonymous racist threat and losing his home, Walker said he wouldn’t give in to the hateful demands. “Resign from the fire department would obviously please them and I don’t want to please them,” he told the Buffalo News. “At the same time I am going to do what I have to do to protect my family. I am still going to live my life.” Walker has been a volunteer firefighter for the last two years with the Gratwick Hose.
North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur G. Pappas, who spoke out against the letter, is calling for justice against whoever is behind the blaze.
“We’re totally disgusted that anyone would continue to do this,” Pappas told reporters. “Whoever is responsible is certainly doing something that’s very distasteful and hateful.”
Investigators are still looking for who was behind the racist letter, as well as what started the fire.
Walker was speaking to the police and FBI agents after losing his home on Wednesday.
North Tonawanda fire chief Joseph Sikora said he was sickened and appalled by the racist message, pointing out how great Walker has been.
“And he’s a good guy, a good worker,” Sikora told reporters on Tuesday. “This is something I never thought I would have to deal with as a fire chief and it really has got me upset. I couldn’t apologize enough. We’ll help him any way we can.”
Walker’s fire department, the Gratwick Hose, is hosting a donation drive on Sunday, hoping to help him with furniture, household items, clothes, food and toys for the family and their two children.