Mayor’s memo: City addressing racial equity issues

By Mayor Tim Busse

A piece of rope tied into what appeared to be a crude noose was discovered in the gear locker of a Black firefighter at a Bloomington fire station on June 15 and reported to Fire Department leadership on June 23. The City of Bloomington asked the FBI to investigate the matter. The investigation was still ongoing at the time of this writing. 

I realize the anger, frustration and hurt being felt in our community. I have heard from many of you and strongly share your feelings supporting the firefighter, condemning hate, and wanting answers. Please know that we recognize this incident is very serious and that we are dealing with it in that same spirit. 

The City has a strict workplace policy that forbids all types of discriminatory and disrespectful behavior. When we become aware of violations or someone makes an allegation that a violation occurred, we have a legal obligation to investigate it.  Violators of our respectful workforce policy will be held accountable. The City does not condone acts of hate or discrimination and I do not believe such an act is reflective of the overall culture of the City of Bloomington or our Fire Department.

I assure you that the City of Bloomington, including the Fire Department, is committed to being a safe and respectful place to work for all employees.  Building on existing efforts, the Fire Department will continue its racial equity work with an opportunity for all staff to participate in a safe space discussion about this incident and share its impact as well as explore questions about racial equity.  The Department is scheduling additional training and work sessions to reinforce City policies, continue its racial equity work and emphasize the importance of such work.  

While we don’t have all the answers, we know that there is much work to be done. I also believe that this is an opportunity to show the best of Bloomington. At our City Council meeting on July 13, we focused on a plan for how we can act with urgency to advance racial equity while being thoughtful and intentional about creating meaningful change. Many of you have also indicated your desire to actively participate in advancing racial equity in our community. We appreciate your interest and ask you to take a pledge and share with us your thoughts about moving this work forward. Find the pledge online at