This morning, Miami Beach commissioners will recognize Digna Abello as the first female firefighter to rise to the rank of division chief. Normally, her promotion would be a milestone for a force with a history of discrimination against women and minorities. Moments before Abello is honored, however, commissioners will hear how a black fire department employee has been racially harassed and threatened ever since filing a complaint against the city.
Brian Gentles, who until last month was a fire inspector for the city, says he has received dozens of threatening phone calls from people he suspects are firefighters. In one call, embedded below, someone pretending to be a Chase bank employee calls him a "n***er," threatens him with a weed whacker, and tells him "you better start running if I were you."
"I have been dealing with this foolishness since 2011," Gentles says. "So far the city hasn't taken it seriously."