NEW HAVEN — Members of the “New Haven 20” will be promoted after a U.S. District Court judge ruled today that the city of New Haven violated the civil rights of the 19 white and one Hispanic firefighter when the city thew out fire officer tests in 2004 because too few African American firefighters passed.

Fourteen firefighters were ordered to be promoted. The city confirmed in a statement tonight that the promotions will be completed as soon as possible, WTNH-TV reported.

The case of Ricci vs DeStefano is case of so-called “reverse racism.” The lawsuit claimed that New Haven violated the rights of the plaintiffs when it threw out two promotional exams because blacks scored poorly. The city claimed, in its own defense, that it threw out the tests out of fear that discrimination lawsuits would arise from the black community. Instead, the 19 white firefighters and one Latino who would have been in line for promotions sued the city.

A judge had thrown out the case in 2006. The U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed the claim in 2008. But in June, the United States Supreme Court reversed the decision, leading to yesterday’s ruling.

That same judge, Janet Bond Arterton, signed the order granting the promotions after she was overruled by the nation’s highest court. (Click here to read the statement)

Firefighters Frank Ricci, Michael Blatchley, Greg Boivin, Michael Christoforo, Ryan Divito, Steven Durand, Christopher Parker and Mark Vendetto will be promoted to lieutenant.

Advancing to the rank of captain: Gary Carbone, William Gambardella, Brian Jooss, Matthew Marcarelli, Timothy Scanlon and Benjamin Vargas.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

One Response

  1. George

    The same thing happened to me under the US Army’s affirmative action plan. I had the highest Skill Development Test score in my military occupation. I studied very hard for it for several years. Minorities did not do so well on the exam – at least the ones I knew. The Army threw the test out, promoting a person i knew who had scored a 30% on the exam! By this time I had held each position that the next pay grade functions in, had served in two combat zones. Lead a company of soldiers as First Sergeant twice. Nothing pisses me off more than discrimination, Affirmative Action is just another flavor of it.

    In the end, used my GI Bill to go to college. Finished with a GPA of 3.8. Continued on into a professional career.


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