Noose Incident Prompts Apologies, Demotion, and a Lawsuit

A white assistant chief in Indiana who threw a noose to a black firefighter during a knot tying exercise has been demoted to firefighter. The incident has also prompted a race discrimination suit by the black firefighter.

Former Marion Fire Department Assistant Chief Rick Backs created the noose during a training exercise last February exercise and reportedly threw it toward firefighter Mikel Neal. The incident sparked racial tensions in the city of Marion that brought back recollections of lynchings that occurred as late as the 1930s.

Backs, who apologized for what he referred to as a lapsed in judgment, agreed to accept the demotion.

Now comes word that Neal has decided to file a lawsuit over the incident.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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