WARREN, Mich. (FOX 2) - "The All Around N-word."
That's what former Warren firefighter Jose Suarez says colleagues repeatedly called him while on the job. Now, the first generation Cuban American is suing the City of Warren, fire commissioner Wilbur McAdams, and Lt. James Selakowski for discrimination and violation of his constitutional rights.
"He overheard this defendant, his boss, tell one of the firefighters that Cubans were just "white n-words." And thereafter he began to be called "The All-Around N-word," claims attorney Jim Rasor.
He's representing Suarez, who says he experienced much of the alleged discrimination while working at Engine One on Nine Mile near Mac Arthur, which, Suarez claims, white firefighters call The Chimp Cage.
"And it was called The Chimp Cage because it served a primarily African American population," Rasor said. "Also the other firefighters referred to the people they served as spooks, the n-word and, curiously, billies."
Rasor draws a parallel between that and the audio recordings of racists remarks attributed to Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.
"What happens when you have a mayor of a city that feels like he can throw around the n-word and call people chimps, you wind up with "The Chimp Cage,"" Rasor said.
FOX 2 talked to Mayor Fouts on the phone about the lawsuit, which he called "phony and fraudulent." He specifically isn't named as a defendant but Rasor told us he plans on calling him to testify. If that happens it will be interesting to see if Fouts would be forced to answer questions about the audio recordings.
The lawsuit is set to go to trial next week.
"The very first day he submitted a complaint, I asked him, four feet across from me - four feet, face-to-face - 'Was there a racial component to any of these allegations?' And the man said no. Emphatically said no," fire commissioner Wilbur McAdams told us. He claims the allegations of racism did not come until five months later and he did everything in his power to accommodate Suarez.
Now, he's looking forward to defending his department and his reputation in court.
"I will not tolerate any acts of discrimination, period. As a black man, I find it reprehensible. As a person I find it reprehensible," he said.