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Mikal Neal, Marion Ind Firefighter

Marion Indiana Firefighter Mikal Neal / Submitted by Neal

Noose

Source: Peter Dazeley / Getty

While the nation and the world is looking at Indiana and wondering if discrimination exists, here’s a disturbing story of workplace racial bias and harassment involving a first responder – a firefighter.  Mikal Neal is a Marion Indiana firefighter; a community 81 miles from downtown Indianapolis off I-69 in Grant County.  In February Neal and his fellow firefighters were receiving training from Marion Fire Department Assistant Chief Rick Backs on how to properly tie knots in ropes. When Chief Backs came to Neal, instead of showing him a knot, he showed him a noose.  Not only was this a racial insult in the workplace, it had a more emotional and personal connection.  That’s because Mikal Neal’s wife, Rachel Fears-Neal, is related to Abram Smith, who with another Black man were lynched in Marion in 1930. The last two Blacks lynched in a northern state. The case has outraged members of the Marion Fire Department and many in the Marion community, a city of some 30,000.  The Fire Department placed Chief Backs on paid leave.  Backs issued an apology, but Neal and the community want him dismissed from the department.  An administrative hearing is coming up on April 6th. In an exclusive, extended Afternoons with Amos interview, Neal and his attorney Walter Madison talked about the case and reaction it. Asked how his wife was taking it, Neal said she cries a lot and has been emotionally impacted by the incident.  Attorney Madison talked about how Neal’s fellow firefighters helped calm him down after the incident occurred. In fact, said Madison, his fellow white firefighters were as angry as Neal.  At a time when discrimination in Indiana concerning one group is being talked about, bigotry, racism and discrimination against African-Americans, including in the workplace, is alive and well.  Hear the Afternoons with Amos Interview About Workplace Racism in Marion Indiana on Our NEW Media Player. Runs 25 Minutes. ©2015 WTLC/Radio One. Audio Starts After Brief Video Ad.

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