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White Applicants Blast FDNY After Being Denied Entry To Preparation Class

They Say Being Shut Out By Vulcan Society Felt Like Reverse Discrimination
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FDNY applicants shut out

This amateur footage shows predominantly white FDNY applicants waiting outside for a preparation class on Feb. 29 that they were never admitted to. (Photo: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Applicants are letting loose on the FDNY, saying the department engages in reverse discrimination.

There were hurt feelings and racial tensions as white applicants were left standing outside a prep class on Wednesday night, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.

“Whoever’s name is not on the list is not getting in, so were just following orders. That’s just the way it is,” the applicants were told.

Joseph Basile was one of those who didn’t get in.

“It wasn’t a good feeling. It felt like it was discrimination,” Basile said.

The class was conducted by the Vulcan Society, a group of African American firefighters in an overwhelmingly white department. Many applicants who were turned away preregistered online on forms that did not ask for their race, which made for testy moment.

“What would Martin Luther King do?” one agitated applicant asked.

Many applicants were referred to the Vulcan Society test by Deputy Chief Paul Mannix, who heads a group called “Merit Matters,” which calls for even-handed entry requirements regardless of race. He said it wasn’t a stunt.

“We feel that for your best opportunity to do well on the test the Vulcan’s test is a good test. They hit the nail on the head last time with those unique types of questions,” Mannix said.

“I was told [it] was of the best prep courses around, yes,” Basile said, adding when asked if his speaking out was to make a point, “no, I just wanted to take the test. It aint right.”

The Vulcan Society didn’t return Young’s calls Thursday. The FDNY said it is looking into the matter. Another prep test was scheduled for Thursday night. Basile said he would be back. He just wants in. He said he doesn’t want anyone else out.

Wednesday night’s class was the third in a series of prep exams given by the Vulcan Society. The previous two were integrated. The one Wednesday was the only one from which people were barred from attending.

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