(CBS) – Now there are calls for the mayor to get rid of Chicago’s fire commissioner.
The demand comes from firefighters. The issue is race, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.
For years, Jose Santiago has been commanding 5,000 members of the Chicago Fire Department. Now, some of those firefighters, past and present, want him gone.
“We have systemic racism within the Chicago Fire Department,” retired firefighter James Winbush says.
The African American Firefighters & Paramedics League, which held a news conference Thursday, says the biggest problem is the lack of hiring and promotion of black women.
One fire captain says she reported one of her bosses and was subject to reprisal.
“I told him that one of my superiors was breaking an egregious law. Quite frankly — hold on to your hats — he was having sex in my building, and I was uncomfortable with that. Within four days, I was demoted,” Carmelita Wiley-Erls said. “I step forward to tell you I am not necessarily afraid of retaliation.”
During an appearance at Malcolm X College, Mayor Emanuel defended his fire department boss, saying he has done a “tremendous job” at the fire department and, before that, at the Office of Emergency Management and Communication.
“That goal of equal opportunity, equal access exists, and we’ll continue to work at it,” the mayor said.