Protesters: Racially Charged Firefighter Rant Investigation Moving Too Slow
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Dozens of concerned citizens took part in a protest Wednesday in connection with controversial comments made by a Miami-Dade Fire Department Captain in the Trayvon Martin case.
Capt. Brian Beckmann is under investigation for a racially charged rant he posted on his personal Facebook page nearly two weeks ago.
About 60 protestors demonstrated outside of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Headquarters in Doral on Wednesday and claimed the Fire Department’s internal investigation is taking too long.
“We are here basically to see that this slow-moving investigation is sped up and expedited because we do not want the Brian Beckmann’s of this fire department responding to our community. And I say Brian Beckmann’s because there are several Brian Beckmann’s that work on this fire department and we want the fire department to take issue with it,” said William D.C. Clark who identified himself as a 28-year firefighter from Miami-Dade. The fire department, however, said Clark is a former county employee.
Clark, along with other critics, want Beckmann to be formally disciplined or fired.
In an e-mail statement, the Miami-Dade Fire Department said, “The investigation is well underway; the Department will not be rushed into completing this inquiry. The public is entitled to a thorough fact-finding process, and that is what we will do.”
The Facebook post that started this firestorm of controversy claimed “failed, *expletive*, ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents,” are to blame in cases like the shooting death of unarmed Miami teen Trayvon Martin.
Beckmann also wrote in his post, “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.”
The Fire Department’s investigation will determine whether any county policies were violated by the posting , which critics say is racist.
In the county’s 11-page social media policy, there is just one paragraph regarding personal opinions that reads “do it on your own time, make clear that you are speaking from your own point of view.”
Beckmann has defended the post. He told CBS4 News partner the Miami Herald that he was a ‘private citizen and has the same right to freely express an opinion on any subject that anyone else does’.
As for Beckmann’s first amendment rights, the legal community says he is entitled to them but that doesn’t mean there are not consequences from the government which is his employer.
“The first amendment doesn’t require that the government employer sit idly by while its employees sort of insult the people it was hired to protect and serve,” said UM law professor Caroline Mala.
Beckmann made the Facebook post on the same day State Attorney Angela Corey announced that Sanford neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was being charged with second-degree murder in the Trayvon Martin shooting. Martin, a Miami Gardens teen, was unarmed. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense.