By Terry Miller
Last week, Pasadena’s fire chief was suddenly uprooted from his five-year tenure at the city’s Fire Department without any official explanation.
This caught the media and officials by surprise but none more so than the NAACP’s Pasadena president.
On Friday, the well-known national organization’s local chapter issued a heartfelt statement and plans on public demonstration tonight at City Hall imploring that the city address the issue immediately:
“On Feb. 5, 2020, the shocking public announcement of Pasadena’s Fire Chief
Bertral Washington being placed on administrative leave and then suspiciously reassigned by the City Manager Steve Mermell has overwhelmingly come to the attention of the Pasadena NAACP membership.
“This becomes more troubling especially after it has been reported by the community and internal city sources about the continued harassment Chief Washington has endured from the Pasadena Firefighters Association, with the lack of support from City Manager Steve Mermell. It appears that Fire Chief Bertral Washington’s reassignment was due to outside pressure from the association.
“The NAACP branch will rally the African American community and allies into Pasadena City Hall Council Chamber to raise their voices and speak on the topics of diversity in key public safety appointments, internal systematic dilution of the African American leadership, and community advisement.”
“’Has the Black community of the City of Pasadena become invisible? The audacity to put Mr. Washington on leave a day after Martin Luther King Day then tries to embarrass him during Black History Month is another shining example of Pasadena City Leadership which seems to be led by the fire union and shows lack of respect for the African American community.’ says Allen Edson, the president of Pasadena NAACP.
“In the past five years, the City of Pasadena has seen a decline in key city positions that were once held by African Americans. This has called into question the reality of inclusive and equitable betterment for all in this very diverse community of the City of Pasadena.”