Firefighter at heart of 2017 racist Facebook post promoted to lieutenantPosted: Updated:
The city of Yonkers is facing a wave of criticism after promoting a firefighter who previously made a racist social media post in 2017 that caused his temporary suspension.
The Facebook post by firefighter Richard LaPeruta is a captioned picture of an unknown black man sitting next to a gorilla that reads: "Father reconnects with his son after abandoning him thirteen years earlier."
Above the photo, LaPeruta added his own caption: "First and Second on the YFD test."
LaPeruta was suspended from the department without pay for 75 days. He was promoted to lieutenant during a ceremony at City Hall on Thursday.
The city told News 12 that he was passed over for promotions over the past two years and has shown to be remorseful for his actions.
Black rights activists are outraged by the promotion and say he should have been fired. They also say LaPeruta never reached out to the black community after the incident.
"When did he come to us as African Americans, to the NAACP, to any other areas of the community that's black and tell us face to face?" asked the Rev. Frank Coleman, president of the NAACP Yonkers branch. "We know nothing of that remorse."
LaPeruta released a written letter that says: "I would like to give my heartfelt apologies to the city of Yonkers, the department and to all the people who I may have hurt with my tasteless and insensitive post on social media." He also said he was grateful to the department for "an opportunity to show my true good nature."
City leaders say they are now vowing to fight for more diversity and unconscious bias training in the city's fire department.
News 12 reached out to LaPeruta for comment and has not heard back.