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City probes racism at fire department

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Sraff Writer

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

City officials are looking into allegations of racial discrimination at the Rocky Mount Fire Department.

Local resident Nehemiah Smith alleged that minority firefighters have been repeatedly on the receiving end of racial slurs made by white, sometimes higher-ranking firefighters.

Smith spoke during the public comment portion of Monday's city council meeting.

City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said she had heard rumblings about such behavior but had received nothing concrete. She said she is going to peruse the matter.

Councilman Reuben Blackwell said he hopes the decision will be the "shot across the bow" for any firefighters engaged in such activity so they know to stop.

The council's normal business went off without a hitch and with little discussion.

The council gave a thumbs-up to a request by Rocky Mount Mills to rezone property on Elm Street from residential to commercial for the establishment of a collection of tiny homes that will function as a motel.

The council also approved a lease agreement with REB Properties for approximately 87 acres of city-owned land on Gay Road for hunting purposes. The deal is for five years, April 1 through March 31, 2023, at $850 a year.

Four Griffins received rezoning approval to change 3.318 acres from business to residential at the corner of Beaver Pond Drive and Northern Boulevard.

The council approved a city-owned paved parking lot at 704 Pennsylvania Ave.

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