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NAACP Responds to Fire Chief’s Retirement

Group claims lack of representation of people of color, specifically African-Americans, in leadership positions ongoing issue

Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 | 7:03 am
NAACP Pasadena Branch President Allen Edson, Pasadena City Manager Steve Mermell, and Fire Chief Bertral Washington.

On the heels of the retirement of Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington, the Pasadena branch of the NAACP on Wednesday said it would continue its civic engagement and community dialogue on local issues.

“Over the past few weeks, we as a community have shown our elected officials that we will demand answers and raise our voices whenever we see unethical decisions being made in our community,” said NAACP Allen Edson in a prepared statement. “Please understand, this is far from over.”

Pasadena Now reported on Tuesday that Washington announced his resignation effective April 10. Washington was reassigned to City Manager Steve Mermell’s office in February.

Supporters claimed the reassignment came after Washington was placed on administrative leave. Members of the city council said they were never told there was a problem with Washington.

After the move the NAACP called for an investigation and began showing up at City Council meetings to show their support and demand answers.

The city cannot discuss the situation due to laws prohibiting the release or discussion of personnel records.

Got Used Oil

Washington has not commented on the matter.

“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by this event. We respect and honor Chief Washington’s decision to retire,” Edson, said. “Let this be a reminder to everyone of the importance of being civically engaged in their communities and to hold responsible parties accountable for their unprincipled actions. We as a community have a lot of work to do before those in the African-American community who are in positions of leadership in all sectors are treated fairly, with respect and given the same support as their ‘white’ colleagues.”

According to Edson, the lack of representation of people of color, specifically African-Americans, in leadership positions in the City of Pasadena continues to be an ongoing issue.

“As one of the oldest civil rights associations in the nation, we are committed to continuing to fight for equal rights for all people. NAACP Pasadena will continue to engage the City of Pasadena in efforts to collaborate in the ending of racial discrimination and bias in all institutions throughout the city.”

Mermell and Edson agreed to meet after the City Manager asked the NAACP president to discuss African-American hiring. The details of that meeting were not made public.

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