When A Noose Is Just a Knot

Houston Fire Department Sr. Captain Keith Smith apologized today for keeping a knot in his station locker that many thought resembled the racist symbol of a noose.


Captain Smith said the rope,  – which he described to be 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter and 4 feet long,  was a  training souvenir from his days at the HFD academy.

Smith attended a news conference at the fire department’s headquarters near downtown, along with Pastor D.Z. Cofield  of the NAACP.

Cofield told the media that the civil rights organization investigated the complaints about the hangman’s style noose, but concluded that the charge of racism was unwarranted.

“For us this is not an issue of black or white, wrong or right, ” said Pastor Cofield. “We believe he (Smith) was unfairly treated.”

Cofield went on to say that he does believe HFD has a serious issues of racism and sexism that deserve to be investigated.

Capt. Smith said that he kept the rope after he left the HFD academy so that he could continue to practice tying knots.

“Everybody was issued one, we were required to wear them around our waist at the academy,” said Smith. “and if an officer stopped us to tie a know we were responsible for that.”

Meanwhile, not everyone is happy with the latest turn of events. 

Otis Jordan, the president of the Black Fighters Association told 2 on the Beat that Smith’s story has changed several times, and that the Sr. Captain should have been aware of how offensive the knot was to African American firefighters at station 41.

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