Sushi chef criticizes leaders for criticizing fire chief
SAN ANTONIO — Officials in San Antonio said they are reviewing the actions of the city’s fire chief after photos were made public in which he was eating sushi displayed on a mostly nude woman at a firefighter’s birthday party this year.
The San Antonio Express-News reported Friday that it had obtained two photos that showed Fire Chief Charles Hood posing next to a woman who does not appear to be wearing any clothes and whose body is partly covered by sushi, flowers and leaves as she lays on a table. Hood was not in uniform in the photos.
City Manager Erik Walsh was informed about the photos by the newspaper.
“I’ve just been made aware of this today and will certainly be looking into it,” Walsh said. “We all have to be aware that our actions outside of the workplace — good, bad or otherwise — reflect on the organization we represent.”
Hood, who has been fire chief since 2007, on Friday defended posing for the photos taken at firefighter Shody Henshaw’s 50th birthday party at his home in January. Hood called the gathering “more or less a family event.”
“You walk in the front door and there’s a sushi lady there that I guess is a business, so I stopped and posed and take a picture. That’s it,” Hood said. “It would be like me taking a picture with a flamenco dancer in Vegas or a Spurs dancer at Top Golf where the Spurs dancers happen to be there.”
Hood added that he apologizes to anyone who was offended by the photos.
Henshaw defended Hood on Friday, calling his birthday celebration “a beautiful, classy party” and that no one ate sushi off the woman’s body.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg declined to comment.
The serving of sushi on a naked woman called “body sushi” or “naked sushi” — is part of the Japanese practice of nyotaimori. The practice has been criticized in recent years, with civil rights and community groups saying it objectifies women’s bodies.
Under San Antonio Fire Department rules, the conduct of employees, whether on-or-off duty “shall be governed by the ordinary and reasonable rules of good conduct and behavior.”
Employees also are prohibited from taking part in behavior that would bring discredit upon the department or cast it in a negative light.
During his time as fire chief, Hood, has disciplined several firefighters for their behavior and actions. Hood fired one firefighter who shared a screenshot of someone asking if it’s legal to run over protesters who are blocking a road.
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