Everett Fire Chief Addresses Diversity At Everett Fire Department

June 1, 2020

Everett Fire

Today Everett Fire Chief Dave DeMarco posted the following letter on the Everett Fire Department’s Facebook page. For those who don’t use Facebook, here it is.

A letter from Chief DeMarco to the department:

June of 2020 finds us in difficult times. Normally we would celebrate Pride Month with our LGBTQ members, but this year we need to do more. Pride month is held in remembrance of the Stonewall uprising that occurred in June 1969, where LGBTQ Americans fought for human and civil rights. This fight for dignity and equality among minority populations has been a part of American history since our founding. Ultimately, our true strength as Americans is found in our diversity; no other country has so effectively assimilated the cultures of both the indigenous population and the many repeated waves of immigration. Today, the national discourse is much more focused on our differences than our similarities and threatens to tear apart the very fabric of our nation.

George Floyd was an African American man who died under the knee of a white police officer. Perhaps equally appalling to watching this man’s death was seeing the other officers present do nothing to intervene. Yesterday the Minneapolis Police Chief explained to a crowd that the killing was “contrary to what we believe” as police officers. I know that to be true, and yet this terrible crime is just one of many injustices experienced by generations of minority Americans.

Despite increasing diversity, the majority demographic at Everett Fire matches the fire service and is still white, heterosexual, and male. Our organizational values are such that we take pride in offering respect and dignity to our team and our community. While we offer that respect through silent acceptance of the differences between us, it is mostly from the security and standpoint of a comfortable majority. Silent acceptance, however, is no longer enough. We cannot pretend to understand the challenges faced by minorities in our department or community. Our minority members have had to climb the same mountains as our majority members, plus many more our majority is unable to see. The calling we face today is to try to recognize those extra challenges and take action to change them.

Seeking human dignity and equality is not a political movement. There are no valid opposing viewpoints; there is just right, wrong, and silence. It is through silence that the majority allows wrong to be done to our fellow citizens. Silence is complicity.

Recall the social caste system taught by Dr. Hicks; we occupy the pinnacle of that system not because we do dangerous work, but because we represent a values system that promises equal care and compassion for all. A values system knows no rank or status; for Everett Fire it is critical that all members recognize their obligation to protect our values system above all else. This includes an obligation to act when values are being violated, even when it is uncomfortable.

Like us, our brothers and sisters in law enforcement are only human. Our individuals make mistakes, but as organizations of public trust we must always be striving for perfection. In all my years interacting with law enforcement I know them to hold human dignity in the highest regard. It is a shared value between police and fire, so we must continue the hard work of addressing our failings. We can start today by reaching out to our minority members and begin the conversation of understanding their experiences.

We are one Everett. We are all a part of a community with varying ethnicities, backgrounds, lifestyles, strengths and vulnerabilities. To honor all our minority members, and to challenge our majority to converse, listen, learn, and act on equality, the One Everett symbol will appear on all department vehicles for the remainder of 2020.

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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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