Fire captain demoted after Trayvon Martin posts
DORAL, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida fire captain has been demoted after he made some controversial online posts about the Trayvon Martin case.
The Miami-Dade Fire Department has decided on a two-rank demotion for Brian Beckmann from fire captain to firefighter effective immediately, after a two-hour administrative meeting on Monday.
A 33-page document detailing the allegations against former captain Beckmann and the meeting claims he violated county and department policy with posts he made on his personal Facebook page having to do with the Trayvon Martin case.
In February, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin from Miami Gardens was visiting his father in Sanford, Florida when neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman shot and killed him.
Zimmerman said he felt threatened by Martin, who was unarmed and happened to be wearing a hoodie and only carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. Zimmerman shot Martin, claiming self-defense but has since been charged with second-degree murder.
The same day charges were made against Zimmerman, Beckmann, a 15-year veteran of the department, took to his Facebook page in what many people have said to be a racially charged, R-rated rant about African-American teens and parenting as well as his experience with the Miami-Dade Fire Department, saying in part: "I and my co-workers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, [expletive], ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents."
The issues even made it to Capital Hill. "I think he should be reprimanded, I think that's wrong," said Representative Frederica Wilson. "I don't care whether it was personal, he carries those feelings to work with him."
In addition to his demotion, Beckmann will have to go through diversity training and have a psychological evaluation. Miami Beach Mayor Carlos Giminez supported the decision in a statement saying: "... Public servants have a responsibility to uphold the highest levels of integrity and decency, especially when you consider our multicultural, multiethnic community. There's no such thing as being off-the clock; we are public servants 24/7 and must conduct ourselves with the utmost professionalism at all time."
Beckmann submitted an apology to Miami-Dade Fire Chief William Bryson reading in part: "I promise that I will try harder than ever to be a decent and professional public servant to the citizens of Miami-Dade County ... My family has suffered tremendously and this has been punishment beyond anything I ever imagined."
Rowan Taylor, president of the Metro-Dade Firefighter Union, said an appeal will be filed on behalf of Beckmann. Taylor released a statement saying in part: "Discipline, if considered, should be supported by facts and should not be handed out based on outside pressure. As Union President, I believe that the facts in this case do not warrant the discipline handed out today."
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