Latino Firefighter Ben Vargas Physically Assaulted But No Press Coverage?

The Effects of Ricci v. DeStefano on the New Haven Fire Department

new haven 20 If the name Ben Vargas sounds familiar, it’s probably because his name is quickly becoming a staple in the most engaging reverse discrimination court case to hit the Supreme Court in quite some time. As described in Ricci v. DeStefano, the city of New Haven tossed the results of a promotional firefighting exam to avoid a potential lawsuit by black firefighters. Why? It's quite simple actually. Although some black and Latino firefighters passed the promotional exam, no blacks scored high enough to qualify for an immediate promotion. Believing that it was unfair not to promote black firefighters, the Civil Service Commission invalidated the test. Incidentally, the only Latino eligible for an immediate advancement, based upon the exams, was Ben Vargas.

It’s no secret at the New Haven Fire Department that the Ricci v. DeStefano case has created a substantial rift between black and white firefighters. Ben Vargas and 19 other firefighters (known as the New Haven 20) filed a reverse discrimination lawsuit against New Haven for tossing the exam and thereby denying them their promotion.

At the very outset, New Haven’s local NAACP and the Firebirds (New Haven’s Black Firefighters organization) sided with the city to toss the exam. When the Local 825 elected to support the New Haven 20, Gary Tinney, leader of the Firebirds, decided to sue his union on the basis of white favoritism. Thus, the Firebirds have positioned themselves against their entire department family by supporting the disenfranchisement of those who passed the exam.

Ben Vargas Assaulted and Found Unconscious

On June 2nd, 2004, the black and Hispanic caucus of New Haven conducted a meeting to discuss a lawsuit against the local union. Gary Tinney, a black firefighter on the department, had questioned why Vargas was at the event knowing how Vargas felt about killing the promotional exams. Feeling unwelcome, Vargas asked Tinney if he wanted him to leave. Firefighter Darryl Brooks stepped in and responded "no", and welcomed him in.

During the meeting, Tinney had presented an argument that Local 825's decision to support the New Haven 20 would only benefit whites at the financial expense of all the minorities. The opposing view, presented by AFL-CIO President John Olson, was quickly dismissed as favoring the whites.

Two days later on June 4th, 2004, the internal strife of the New Haven Fire Department came to a climax when Ben Vargas was brutally attacked at a local restaurant. According to the police report, Vargas thought there might be a problem when he entered the restaurant seeing Gary Tinney and a few other black firefighters at the bar.

Vargas noted that Gary Tinney left briefly and returned with two unfamiliar black men that looked to be in their 30s. The police report states that Vargas used the bathroom about an hour later and was "sucker punched" after leaving the stall. Restaurant personnel discovered Ben Vargas lying on the bathroom floor bloody and unconscious. Later that night, Vargas was treated at the Yale New Haven hospital.

Final Thoughts on Vargas and Why There Was no Press coverage

Although Vargas did not see the assailant, he claimed the attack was orchestrated by a black firefighter on his department. And even though the evidence to support Vargas’ claim isn’t firm, many firefighters on the department consider his accusation to be a matter of fact.

The real question is why Vargas’ assault didn’t hit the national news. It is reasonable to assume that if a black firefighter were violently attacked on the basis of his involvement in a civil rights court case, MSNBC and CNN would have broadcasted the story everywhere. It appears that part of the reason the story remains buried is because Vargas was on the wrong side of the politically incorrect debate. And that is truly unfortunate.

Comments (6)
  • Zeus Rodriguez  - Hispanics have to stick together

    This is the type of situation that makes me want to fly to Connecticut just to see just how tough these punks think they are, especially the probable instigator. The problem with that is that emotions cannot dictate our response as a Hispanic Community. We must appeal to all races to respond with justice and appropriate action. This cannot turn into a Black against Hispanic fight, it must continue to be a focus on good versus evil and that, as we all know, has nothing to do with race.

  • Aaron Rodriguez  - Right

    The problem does not stem from racial distinction, but from an entitlement mentality fostered by liberalism.

  • Anonymous  - Thanks for being objective

    I want to thank you for your objectivity in your coverage. Let me also clarify the 2 other Hispanics scored high enough to earn a promotion to Captain. One finished #8 and the other #13. There were 8 total positions for Captain when the exam was issued and about 11 as of today, therefore there is possibility the 3rd would be promoted within the 2 year window.

  • Aaron M. Rodriguez  - Thanks

    Thanks for the clarification. Hopefully the Supreme Court will decide to overturn New Haven's decision to toss the exam and provide these firefighters the promotions and back pay they deserve.

    As a fellow firefighter, I can sympathize with the New Haven 20.

  • Juan Benitez  - Ben Vargas

    This guy Vargas is what's called a coconut brown on the outside white on the inside, I think this guy is a liar, man I hope he's not Puerto Rican.

  • Aaron M. Rodriguez  - Are you even Hispanic?

    Why is he a coconut? What has he said or done for you to come to that conclusion?

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