A volunteer fire company in Pennsylvania was put on suspension for 30 days after members allegedly made racist comments about other firefighters and mocked Fanta Bility, an 8-year-old girl who died at the hands of three police officers last year, NBC News reports.
Michael Pierce, the solicitor for Darby Township, said a board member from Goodwill and another local fire company reported the alleged comments in a letter to the Darby Township Board of Commissioners during a meeting on Wednesday. Also, he confirmed the suspension of the Briarcliffe Volunteer Fire Company on Thursday and added that the district attorney's office is now overseeing the matter.
The letter which was obtained by NBC News noted that the remarks allegedly took place on Jan. 27, after a virtual meeting about a fire survey between Briarcliffe and other local fire companies, with members from Goodwill in attendance.
While most of the participants had already logged off, six Briarcliffe members stayed on for two more hours according to the letter.
"Suddenly, there was the sound of a group of people discussing the meeting while using foul inappropriate language," the letter stated.
The Briarcliffe volunteers allegedly used racial slurs to describe Black firefighters, as well as the fire chief from another local fire company. In their conversation, they remarked that it was "time to leave" the area due to the influx of Black people who were moving there, the letter claimed.
One firefighter allegedly threatened physical harm to the members of Goodwill, while another made jokes about Fanta Bility's name.
Last August, Fanta was killed outside a football game at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, one mile from Darby Township.
Three police officers were each charged with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and reckless endangerment in Fanta’s death.
"We have great concerns of this as fire companies, and the safety of the community," the letter read. "This is not appropriate and does not belong in the township."
Bruce Castor Jr., an attorney for Fanta's family, said a statement that her relatives were "appalled" by the allegations.
"A kind and loving girl, Fanta brightened the lives of everyone she met," the statement said. "To speak of her with such disrespect shines the light of shame on those people at the firehouse making the remarks, and reflects negatively on those good and true first responders who pledge their lives to the service of all members of the community."