Brookline Firefighter’s Discrimination Suit Joined By Others

A Massachusetts firefighter who is suing his fire department and union for race discrimination, has been joined by two police officers and five other town employees who also allege race discrimination.

Last December, Gerald Alston filed suit against the Town of Brookline, the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Brookline, Betsy DeWitt, Ken Goldstein, Nancy Daly, Jesse Mermell, Stanley Spiegel, Sandra DeBow, Joslin Murphy, Local 950, International Association of Firefighters and Neil Wishinsky alleging race discrimination. The 55-page complaint was filed in US District Court in Boston.

Yesterday, Prentice Pilot, Estifanos Zerai-Misgun, Cruz Sanabria, Juana Baez, Rogelio Rodas, Demetrius Oviedo, and Deon Fincher joined Alston’s submission of an 88-page amended complaint alleging wide-ranging racism by the town that goes so far as to accuse the town of being a former slave-owner.

Alston is described in the complaint as a young man who attended:

  • school in Natick, a predominantly white suburb, where he frequently had to address the ignorance of his white suburban classmates about Black people and about life in Boston.
  • Alston prided himself in his ability to handle racial ignorance and educate his white classmates about racism and prejudice.

Among the allegations:

  • The Town of Brookline requires Black and Hispanic people to be deferential, compliant, and obedient to white people, particularly on issues involving race and racism.
  • The Town of Brookline uses its diversity department as window dressing to maintain the sham of equal opportunity.
  • The Town of Brookline reserves its 25 department head positions for white people, with the exception of the diversity department, which is the only department in the history of Brookline ever to be led by a Black person.
  • The Town of Brookline defends white people against any challenge to the regime of racial subordination.
  • The Town of Brookline gives warnings to white people for traffic violations for which people of color receive fines.
  • The Town of Brookline releases white motorists for driving without a license violations that it arrests people of color for.
  • The Town of Brookline allows white people to avoid prosecution for criminal acts.
  • The Town of Brookline’s opposition to racial equality and support of racial subordination has deep roots. Up until the late 18th century, Brookline residents held Black people in slavery, and the Town of Brookline itself owned at least one enslaved Black person, who was left to the Town by Edward Devotion in his will. The Town named a school in Mr. Devotion’s honor. The Town of Brookline and its white majority supported the practice of slavery and claimed it was morally justified by the false doctrine of white supremacy.
  • The Town of Brookline’s unconstitutional policy has kept free Black people out of Brookline for centuries.
  • To conceal its opposition to racial equality and to maintain the façade of compliance with civil rights laws, the Town of Brookline from time to time establishes committees, working groups and commissions whose nominal charge is to investigate racial inequality, prepare reports, and propose action. The Town of Brookline uses these bodies to suppress racial equality and enforce racial subordination.

Here is a copy of Alston’s original complaint filed December 1, 2015: Alston v Brookline

Here is the amended complaint filed yesterday: Alston v Brookline AMENDED

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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