Home Of African-American Firefighter Catches Fire 2 Days After He Received Letter
Kenneth Walker is the only African-American on the city of North Tonawanda, N.Y. fire department. On Monday, Walker received an anonymous letter with racist language threatening him in an effort to drive him away from his job. Two days later, his house was lost to a fire.
Walker is a volunteer for the Gratwick Hose Fire Company and stated the anonymous note was found folded up in his mailbox. It read:
N****** are not allowed to be firefighters. No one wants you in this city. You have until the end of the week to resign your position or you will regret it……..N*****.
His apartment caught fire on Wednesday afternoon when no one was home. City police and the FBI are investigating any links between the letter and the fire.
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The president of the Gratwick Hose Fire Company, Bob Brennan, spoke very highly of Walker’s service:
He’s there during the middle of the night. He’s there on Sundays. He’s there on holidays, taking time away from his family and sleep to answer calls. I wish I had twenty more members like Ken Walker.
Walker stated he will not be intimidated and will not resign. But there is little doubt the fire was devastating and scary for a man with a family. He stated:
“That was everything that we owned and we pretty much have to start all over,” he said. “We have two young kids and trying to explain to our 4 year old that we have to move and go to a different house it’s going to be a change for her, for us.”
A GoFundMe account has been established for anyone wanting to help out Walker and his family. As of this writing, the fund has already raised more than $30,000 in less than one day. And the writer of the letter has been proven wrong as the community has also stepped up and brought food, supplies and money to help Walker in his time of need.
So, while it’s a tragedy that someone would harass Kenneth Walker for the color of his skin, his community is not standing for it. And if the fire was intentionally set by the same person who sent the letter, we can at least be sure that this is a person whose actions will be countered with love by Walker’s city.