EMTs terminated after racist comments toward Native Americans

The comments were made in reference to a photo of a Native American teen wearing a T-shirt with the wording “No one is illegal on stolen land”

By Phil Ferolito
Yakima Herald

YAKIMA, Wash. — A private ambulance company says it has placed two employees on unpaid leave pending an investigation into derogatory comments about Native Americans they allegedly posted on Facebook.

American Medical Response, which responds to emergency medical calls throughout the Yakima County, including the Yakama reservation, issued a statement saying it placed the two men on leave Tuesday, immediately after learning about the comments.

The comments were made in reference to a photo on Facebook of a Native American teen wearing a T-shirt featuring an upside-down American flag with the wording “No one is illegal on stolen land.”

One of the comments allegedly from an AMR employee said: “For God’s sakes, it’s not stolen, you were conquered. We will finish the job.”

The comment continued: “I’ve been helping Indians for 20 years and find it offensive for them to say we stole their land ... it was a time of conquest and I have witnessed the Indians to be the poorest of losers of all.”

Another employee allegedly wrote: “... I’d have more respect for them if 98.9 percent of them weren’t so useless and a sorry excuse for a human being as well as an infectious scab on society.”

Responding on Facebook, tribal members comments ranged from sadness to outrage.

In a Facebook response, Yakama Tribal Council Chairman JoDe Goudy voiced disappointment in the workers’ posts.

“As Yakama Nation chairman, I refuse to tolerate the absolute racist remarks of individuals who respond on a regular basis to medical emergencies involving Yakama enrolled members and other Natives. Please call AMR (American Medical Response) Corporate office and the local Yakima office to let them know how you feel about these employees,” he said in a Facebook response.

AMR offered a response of its own, saying the comments do not reflect the attitude of the agency.

“American Medical Response team members take great pride in our company’s culture of diversity and inclusion and we strongly condemn posts and comments that promote hatred and bigotry,” the response said.

On Tuesday, AMR’s regional director met with Goudy to reaffirm the agency’s commitment to the community.

“We assured the Tribal Council that the comments by these individuals are not reflective of us,” Regional Director Paul Priest said. “AMR has worked hard over the years to build strong and open relationships with this community, and our years of providing excellent service will continue to be strong.”

Copyright 2018 Yakima Herald

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