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Firefighter takes down department photo gallery, gets $290K payout after filing racial complaints

Firefighter Daylon Hudson settled with the New Britain, Connecticut, fire department after alleging racial bias against the department. (Image source: WFSB video screenshot)

A New Britain, Connecticut, firefighter settled with the city after he took down a photo gallery of past chiefs for not having a picture of the city's first black chief, according to the New Britain Herald.

The New Britain Common Council approved a settlement of $290,000 to Daylon Hudson.

Hudson filed a racism complaint against the department with the city's human rights commission last year.

What's the story?

Last May, several firefighters accused the New Britain Fire Department of creating a hostile work environment and yearslong history of racial discrimination.

Hudson said he and some of his colleagues were upset that a photo of Mark Carr, the department's first black chief, did not hang alongside other former chiefs at its headquarters.

The firefighters claimed that they requested to management to add Carr's picture to the honor wall.

Their request went ungranted, so Hudson decided to take matters into his own hands and removed all the photos of former chiefs from the wall.

But his actions didn't come without consequences.

"I've been suspended for my actions. I took down pictures in protest," Hudson told WSFB-TV in an interview last year. "This is not something new. It's a long, dark, documented history with the New Britain Fire Department."

Hudson, who contacted the NAACP with his complaints, claimed that the problems weren't just about racism.

"This is not just a racial issue. This is the good old boys' network. If you are not part of the network, you get treated unfairly," Hudson said. "There are a lot of these guys here. They have had legitimate issues that they have tried to raise with the city. We don't get acknowledged."

The NAACP held a rally after receiving Hudson and the others' complaints.

"We felt that it was imperative and crucial that we let the community know what kind of behavior that was occurring in our city," said Ronald Perry Davis, president of the New Britain NAACP chapter.

New Briton Mayor Erin Stewart hired an outside attorney to conduct an investigation, which ultimately faulted Chief Thomas Ronalter, who was placed on leave and later retired.

“Why wouldn’t you do something as simple as put up a photo on a wall?” Stewart told WTIC-TV in a previous interview.

“There have been some insensitivities, definitely some racial insensitivities by him, not thinking about race when he’s making decisions or transfers or decisions affecting the entire department,” Stewart added.

What else?

Hudson agreed to resign from the fire department and drop all pending complaints as part his settlement.

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