Caught on camera making disparaging remarks about the Chicago Fire Department, Rep. Jonathan Jackson, D-Ill., now says he “did not mean to offend” the brave men and women who serve the city.

In a statement posted to X on Tuesday night, Jackson said he was simply trying to “shed light on the need for diversity, training, and equipment upgrades within the Chicago Fire Department.”

A video of Jackson, uncovered Monday by the X account Chicago Contrarian, originally was posted on Instagram by the Black Fire Brigade, a nonprofit group based in Chicago.

In the video, Jackson, son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a liberal political activist for decades, accuses white firefighters of providing an inferior response to fires in certain parts of the city because of their racial makeup. He says these firefighters are “angry” after being displaced from their former neighborhoods.

“When there is a fire, they go there and watch the building burn,” Jackson tells the audience as it responds disapprovingly. He then cites the city’s predominantly white North Side.

“Go to the North Side. If you see 16 units, 25 units in a building, they go and put out the fire in the single unit. We have a fire in a single unit and the whole building gets evacuated,” Jackson continues. “Because we didn’t have people that lived in the community, that cared about the community, that wanted to put the fire out. They had so much contempt, they let the building burn.”

In the video, Jackson concludes his remarks with a plea: “We need more black first responders, we need more black firefighters.”

Shortly after the video was posted on X, Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2 issued a lengthy response condemning Jackson’s language and revoking its political endorsement of the Democrat congressman.

“These comments propagated on social media are not only patently false and maliciously divisive—they are dangerous to our membership,” the union’s executive board wrote in a statement issued Monday. “Local 2 firmly demands Congressman Jackson publicly renounce his comments and issue our membership an apology.”

The union also called on Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt to denounce “this hateful rhetoric and unwarranted attack.”

More than 24 hours after the union’s response to the video, Jackson issued his own three-paragraph statement on X but stopped short of an apology.

In his Tuesday post, Jackson wrote: “My pledge is to help, not harm. I promise to raise awareness of the needs and challenges Chicago firefighters face every day. I will continue to make clear and emphasize why diversity within the ranks of the fire department is so important and why providing better training and tools is crucial.”

Jackson also recounted the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Lewis v. Chicago, a 2010 case involving the Chicago Fire Department’s hiring practices. The congressman contended that, even today, “black firefighters continue to call attention to alleged ongoing workplace discrimination regarding hiring and advancement.”

Jackson isn’t the only Chicago politician to make race-based accusations against the city’s fire department.

Two other videos, posted Tuesday on X by Chicago Contrarian, show city Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor making comments of her own while flanked by Alderwoman Pat Dowell and Aldermen Lamont Robinson and David Moore.

In the first video, Taylor asks the audience: “Did you know that firefighters’ equipment only lasts five years, but they give the black firefighters the 3-year-old equipment? They never get the new equipment.”

The department provides new equipment to firefighters upon starting and replaces equipment on a regular schedule, contrary to Taylor’s assertion. It does not hand down equipment.

She also asserts that white firefighters have special access to the Chicago Fire Department’s promotional exam while black counterparts are left to fend for themselves.

“They’ve got a secret club, they hand out the test to them, but we ain’t invited,” Taylor said. “We actually have to do the work.”

A spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department, asked about the allegations of Jackson and Taylor, rejected them in a statement to The Daily Signal.

“The Chicago Fire Department is aware of recent claims regarding our department,” spokesman Larry Langford said. “We want to assure the public that these allegations are inaccurate and do not reflect the values or actions of our dedicated members. The Chicago Fire Department remains committed to serving and protecting our communities with integrity and professionalism.”

The Daily Signal contacted both Jackson and Taylor for comment but has not heard back.