augustafirefighters 5:35pm, 12 March 2015
Author: Dr. Nathan Van Sertima

The Augusta Chronicle has for years camouflaged the many embarrassing scandals and criminal negligence of the Augusta Fire Department. Documented reports of mistreatment, corruption, and misconduct toward good firefighters is the standard policy of the Augusta Fire Department administration, and whistle-bowers have been slandered, fired, black-balled, falsely arrested, and harassed for protesting or filing complaints against the Department! The Augusta Human Resource Committee ruled that it was Assistant Christopher James and Chief Howard Willis’s fault for firefighters being hazed and injured on duty! Christopher James was the Training Supervisor (investigated numerous times for misconduct and harassing fellow employees) for The Augusta Fire Department. He allowed and encouraged firefighters to physically attack, causing injuries, and then would deny medical treatment to the honest firefighters who reported him and his staff. Many firefighters including Dr. Beckles and Rev. Sloan Griffin documented their concerns to The Augusta Chronicle since 2010. Complaints by good firefighters were uniformly ignored because the Chronicle Staff did not consider injustice against black men newsworthy. Nevertheless, numerous reports of the scandal caused many people like Chris James and Howard Willis to be investigated: Another Augusta committee investigation cited the Augusta Fire Department’s hiring procedures that some commissioners say are keeping good firefighters away and was discriminatory. They routinely allowed women and Caucasians to bypass qualifications, while unfairly targeting black males and wrongfully terminating most of the new hires. “Is our house out of order?” Commissioner Don Grantham asked when the issue was raised at a recent committee meeting. Commissioner J.R. Hatney said it was. “I get 25 calls a month from complainants about the fire department,” Hatney said. The hiring process needs “a complete review” by a subcommittee with input from city human resources, equal employment and administration, he said. Hiring procedures introduced in 2007 include that female applicants and whites were treated better than black men during job interviews and agility tests. The equal employment rights procedures were not followed to the letter and some candidates were hired based on personal connections to fire department personnel (which is a standard discrimination procedure throughout every business in the South). Misconduct and dishonest administrators are definitely commonplace in the Augusta area and especially at the Augusta Fire Department, and most southern businesses and government agencies in the Central Savannah River Area publically enforce job discrimination. The most notable of corrupt administrators is Assistant Chief Christopher James who has been wrongfully firing and terrorizing good firefighters since 2007, and was under fire in 2009 for enforcing an unfair nepotism policy. After being investigated, sued and forced to re-hire most of the black male firefighters, he was responsible for thousands of harassment complaints. Still the Augusta Fire Department continued practicing discriminatory policies and harassment, mainly through its training program; under James’s direction of course, that encouraged degenerate firefighters to harass, bully, assault, and threaten new firefighters! Official complaints was issued to the incompetent Director Jacqueline Humphrey of the Equal Opportunity Administration, who subsequently misplaced or suppressed most of the criminal allegations against Christopher James. Reports that caused the Augusta Commission to put Asst. Chief James and his entire Departmental staff under investigation for: racism, harassment, terrorist threats, and wrongful terminations against fellow firefighters. “Augusta's Fire Chief is feeling the heat.” Stated several local news affiliates during these public scandals from (2010-2013): “Chief Chris James was scheduled to go back before Augusta Commissioners to face questions about his handling of the fire department but because the meeting ran late, it was put off. Last month, the department missed a deadline to get about 200 oxygen tanks tested with James taking the blame for not doing his job. So, our question to commissioners is... is Chief James’ job now on the line?” While another embarrassing scandal suddenly appeared to take the center stage: “Interim fire Chief Christopher James tells News 12 Assistant Fire Chief Jack Hanley has been placed on paid administrative leave. The move comes just hours after our exclusive story aired on Hanley's personnel record. This is not the first time Assistant Fire Chief Jack Hanley has been in hot water. News 12 got our hands on at least four different discipline reports. ‘With the press that we're receiving,’ said Interim Fire Chief Christopher James. ‘This is very hard on employees.’ News 12 is listed in an internal investigation tipping city leaders off to pornographic material being ‘received and distributed’ on city computers in the fire department. ‘Is this embarrassing?’ we asked Chief James. ‘Yes,’ James replied. ‘Yes’.” In 2012, Chief Howard Willis was fired for misconduct! Local news stations also listed another internal investigation looking into criminal activity and hazing initiated by James and Willis prior to Howard Willis being officially fired: “Personnel under James’s command: Scott E. Walker, Lt. Brown and Lt. Lee, Firefighters Recruits: Myles, Smith, Wolmack, Zanwigger, Santadota, Mullins, Johnson, A. Johnson, Parrish, Garcia, and Guest physically assaulted and verbally threaten other fellow firefighters, caused bodily injuries and leaving one firefighter temporarily disabled! The sad truth is that in The Augusta Fire Service; as well as other Southern Fire Departments, there are indeed many issues of racism, black-on-black crime, feminism, and lack of true brotherhood among fellow firefighters. Hopefully further news reports and criminal investigations will change some of the very bad practices of fire departments like the Augusta Fire Service. Another committee review investigated the Augusta Fire Department’s unfair procedures of mistreatment of six Augusta-Richmond County firefighters who filed complaints stemming from a test in 2010 that took place in 102 degree heat at the department's training facility on Deans Bridge Road. Many firefighters told News 12 they were forced to stay outside for 15 hours! More complaints and formal grievances were filed, especially by two famous firefighters and Christian Ministers: Rev. Sloan Griffin and Rev. Dr. Franklyn V. Beckles, Jr., whom were the main heroes who blew the whistle on the corruption in the Augusta Fire Department. Chief Training Officer Christopher James was clearly the man feeling the heat from damaging news reported scandals, and many complaints filed by good firefighters in the department for years. Since his employment, over 14,000 good firefighters unfairly lost their jobs, forced to quit, faced harassment, was denied employment, and literally walked out on the Augusta Fire Department. Off camera, many firefighters with legitimate concerns continue to tell local news stations about the criminal misconduct of Chris James and his staff of flunkies. Unfortunately, despite the history of damaging allegations against the embattled Christopher James, he has been allowed to maintain is job through political connections in Augusta, Georgia. Chris James is even noted for allowing firefighters who are loyal to him, to cheat on fire examinations and new hire employment tests. In previous years, while taking hold of a fire department fraught with problems, acting Fire Chief Chris James publically admitted that the department has issues that must be addressed but believes none will affect the city’s fire protection. “There are some changes that need to be made,” he said, “but citizens will still get fire trucks when the alarm goes off. None of that will stop.” Changes include implementing a policy against firefighters recommending or even contacting 1-800 Board Up, a franchise owned by Bowles Construction, an illegal business ran by former Battalion Chief Tommy Willis. Instead, they’ll provide fire victims with a flier listing phone numbers of board-up companies. Willis turned in a letter of “retirement” after being placed on leave (or termination) while the city investigated claims that he used his position and city resources to steer board-up business exclusively to the company. Fire Chief Howard Willis, and Deputy Chiefs Carl Scott and Mike Rogers also agreed to “retire”. Chris James finally acknowledged that the Augusta Fire Department has leadership issues. Another fact to point out: The Augusta Fire Department has never denied any of the many allegations against them, they all realize that they are a lousy fire department! Augusta interviewed at least two external candidates for chief in 2005 before hiring Howard Willis – then Emergency Management Agency director – to fill a vacancy left when Al Gillespie departed after three years to be chief in North Las Vegas, Nev., because the Augusta Commission would not give him a written contract, because some commissioners stated that he was unqualified to be Chief and he was a racist. Gillespie, left after several commission votes to select him failed, and was replaced by Bernard Mack, who left after just three months on the job, citing personal issues, corruption, and city politics. Mack replaced Ronnie Few, the city’s most corrupt and first black chief, became the subject of scathing criminal investigation reports by a Richmond County special grand jury, although he was never indicted, Few was responsible for hiring numerous dishonest and degenerate firefighters like Christopher James, and allowed them to gain political power through the department: “To make matters worse, news sources stated that: Ronnie Few, the city's fire chief from 1997 to mid-2000, faced corruption allegations and discriminatory hiring policies, was forced quit and took the fire chief's job in Washington, D.C., begged city officials for his job back. Redneck Howard Willis, was appointed instead to head the fire department after the commission forced Chief Al Gillespie to resign to take a job in North Las Vegas, Nev. Several Augusta commissioners agreed that Ronnie Few was stupid for applying for the position, including Commissioner Betty Beard. Commissioner Andy Cheek agreed and questioned why he would want the job. ‘It's like battered wife syndrome, I guess,’ he said. ‘I mean, he's coming back to an area where he's been verbally and emotionally abused, and why he would want to come back here is beyond me.’ Ronnie Few, left Augusta during a special Richmond County grand jury investigation that was highly critical of his performance as fire chief, and was racially black-balled by racist news affiliates, including the Augusta Chronicle who slandered him on numerous occasions, and continues to slander any black political leader to this day. Agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation seized records from his office, which eventually were turned over to Savannah. Savannah District Attorney Spencer Lawton said he decided not to prosecute because many of the grand jury's findings addressed alleged violations of municipal or departmental policy and would not constitute crimes even if proved. Mr. Lawton also said that the statute of limitations had expired on some criminal charges suggested by the grand jury report and that those not barred by the statute could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt on available evidence. Few was fired by the Washington Fire Department after two years amid controversy over his management, plus criminal allegations by black uncle toms and white racist firefighters who were hired by him, and conflicts with the firefighters’ union. Further evidence state that the many scandals of the Augusta Fire Department, which includes allegations and ongoing investigations into misuse of city vehicles and the dissemination of pornography on fire department computers, mistreatment of good firefighters, harassment, political corruption, and criminal activity -- none on the Augusta Commission disagree that change is necessary. Commissioner Bill Lockett, a retired federal investigator, said the Augusta Fire Department “should have had a thorough investigation a long time ago.” More proof that the City of Augusta is corrupt: Chris James, is still the acting chief of the embattled Augusta Fire Department, despite most people in the community and commissioners calling for his “retirement”!?! If you learn anything about Augusta, Richmond and Aiken Counties (C.S.R.A); you’ll realize that corruption, racism, and injustice toward black men are common place; especially in the Public School Systems, Police Departments, and other Government Agencies. We as Americans, should not accept this kind of injustice from any Government Institution that we pay our taxes for...

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References: Based on Numerous News and Journalistic Reports, Public Records & Documents, Witnesses, and Recorded Statements by Several Credible and Reliable News Sources and Articles.
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