A Miami-Dade fire captain has been demoted for posting a racially-charged Facebook rant in which he slammed “ignorant, pathetic, welfare-dependent excuses for parents” as responsible for tragedies like the Trayvon Martin shooting.
CBS Miami reports that Captain Brian Beckmann was demoted to the lowest rank of firefighter after his controversial Facebook comments came to light.
“I and my coworkers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, s–tbag, ignorant, pathetic, welfare-dependent excuses for parents” in cases like that of Trayvon Martin’s, Beckmann posted.
“They’re just misunderstood little church going angels and the ghetto hoodie look doesn’t have anything to do with why people wonder if they’re about to get jacked by a thug,” Beckmann sarcastically added.
Miami-Dade mayor and former fire chief Carlos Gimenez was quick to condemn Beckmann’s remarks.
“The comments made by Captain Beckmann were reprehensible and will not be tolerated,” the mayor declared after the disciplinary action was announced. “We can’t have our employees, especially a supervisor, making such disparaging comments about any member of our community.”
Beckmann claims that his post was borrowed from another source and that the inflammatory language was not his own.
“I was reading things that evoked a response in me that made me want to share it,” he told CBS Miami, adding that he cut-and-pasted his remarks, which “were not my words.”
Beckmann told the Miami Herald in April that as a “private citizen” he “has the same right to freely express an opinion on any subject that anyone else does.”
But even though Miami-Dade County’s official social media policy allows personal opinions to be expressed “on your own time… [and] speaking from your own point of view,” Mayor Gimenez has ordered a revision of that policy because, he told CBS Miami, “public servants have a responsibility to uphold the highest levels of integrity and decency.”
“There’s no such thing as being off-the-clock,” the mayor added. “We are public servants 24/7 and must conduct ourselves with the utmost professionalism at all times.”
In addition to his demotion, Beckmann, who has been a firefighter for 17 years, will be subject to a pay cut. He will also have to undergo a psychological evaluation and complete diversity training courses. He is expected to appeal his disciplinary action through his union, which has expressed its belief that Beckmann’s punishment was “excessive.”
Martin, 17, was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman while visiting his father in a gated community in Sanford, Florida on February 26. Martin’s parents called the killing “cold-blooded murder,” while Zimmerman maintains he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder; on Tuesday state prosecutors said that the FBI is seeking to file hate crime charges against him.