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Stuffed monkey on noose rankles firefighters

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in Human Resources

St. Paul Fire Chief Tim Butler said he will discipline two employees responsible for hanging a stuffed monkey by a noose in a fire station service garage in August.

Butler said he learned about the monkey in September, when he ordered an investigation and had the items taken down. An independent investigator concluded that the incident was not racially motivated, a result Butler said he found surprising but did not dispute.

Some of the station’s 29 black firefighters found the response inadequate. Firefighter Vernon Cobb told the Pioneer Press, “It’s not how it’s meant, it’s how it’s perceived.”

Several employees filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which has launched its own investigation.

Butler said in addition to disciplining the two workers, he would conduct department-wide sensitivity training. “I hope from this point forward this is not a part of our history,” he said in a news conference.

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