A black volunteer firefighter targeted by racist threats is now homeless after flames engulfed his apartment on Aug. 3, according to local reports.
Kenneth Walker received a racist letter littered with the n-word in his mailbox two days prior to the fire. The anonymous letter demanded that Walker resign from his position with the Gratwick Hose fire department “or you will regret it.” The fire company serves the North Tonawanda community.
The letter also stated that “[expletive] are not allowed to be firefighters” and “no one wants you in this city,” WGRZ reported.
The crimes committed against firefighter Kenneth Walker don’t represent our community. Please consider donating pic.twitter.com/UqxMjeg6pT
— scoots (@ericad161) August 3, 2016
The FBI along with local authorities are investigating whether or not the fire and letter are related.
“FBI has received a copy of the note left at Mr. Walker’s residence and we were notified of the fire that occurred there,” FBI spokeswoman Maureen Dempsey said in a statement to 7 Eyewitness News. “Our office is conducting a review to determine what investigative steps are indicated under FBI policy with regard to federal jurisdiction in this matter.”
Walker, his wife, Amanda, and their two children were not in their North Tonawanda home at the time of the fire. The family lost all of their possessions in the blaze, including their two cats.
— Raqiyah Mays (@RaqiyahMays) August 3, 2016
“That was everything that we owned and we pretty much have to start all over,” Walker 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.”
Walker has been a volunteer firefighter for two years, and while he doesn’t have any intention of stopping, he has expressed concern for the safety of his family.
“I’m not at this point going to resign from doing my job. I’m going to take a long hard look at the situation and see what’s best for my family and the end result may be to resign or transfer to a different company, but as of now I’m going to stand fast and see what happens,” he said.