Demoted fire captain presents case to arbitrator

Brian Beckmann demoted after making Facebook post about Trayvon Martin

Published On: Feb 05 2013 10:51:48 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 06 2013 07:38:36 AM EST
MIAMI -

A former Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue captain who was demoted after he posted comments about Trayvon Martin following the teenager's shooting death presented his case to an arbitrator Tuesday.

Brian Beckmann was demoted in May 2012 after making a post which read, "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."

A blogger published the post, which sparked protest in Miami's African-American community. It was made the same day prosecutor Angela Corey announced charges against George Zimmerman in connection with Martin's death.

"I agree with the entire statement in the context that I read it," Beckmann said during his arbitration hearing Tuesday.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Faye Davis forward a screenshot of the post to the blogger.

"To talk about his (Trayvon Martin's) parents, all parents, to generalize who we are as a people -- anger," said Davis.

Beckmann is asking the arbitrator to reinstate him because he believes his right to due process was violated. He says the determination of his punishment was based on politics and not objective judgment by his supervisors.

"This was a very predominant issue in the media. You couldn't turn on a TV or sit at a table at a fire station without people talking about it in some context," said Beckmann. "It was, on top of that, extremely frustrating for me to hear what I heard in that press conference. This was something that invoked a response in me that, I was upset, I was very upset at Angela Corey for her actions. I found it very irresponsible."

In January, the county made its case to an arbitrator. The county argued Beckmann violated its social media policy by speaking on behalf of his fellow coworkers in his private post.

Beckmann said Mayor Carlos Gimenez intervened after meeting with leaders in the African-American community. Gimenez wanted Beckmann fired, but then Chief William "Shorty" Bryson only wanted to suspend him, according to previous testimony.

As a compromise, Beckmann was demoted.

The arbitrator has 90 days to make a decision on whether he should be reinstated.