Protesters call for firefighter's firing

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue continues investigation

Published On: Apr 25 2012 02:50:21 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 25 2012 11:06:20 PM EDT
Protesters
DORAL, Fla. -

Protesters gathered outside Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Headquarters in Doral on Wednesday to call for the ouster of a fire captain who made controversial comments on his Facebook page.

Twenty demonstrators carrying signs marched in front of the building, saying, "Beckmann must go."

They were referring to Capt. Brian Beckmann, a 15-year department veteran with a spotless record who posted comments on his personal Facebook page earlier this month that were critical of the prosecutor's decision to arrest George Zimmerman, 28, in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

"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 post read.

The post did not mention African-Americans, but Miami-Dade residents said they believe he was referring to them.

"He is in clear violations of the policies and procedures that govern the employee conduct in this community," said retired firefighter William Clark. "He cannot make disparaging remarks against his fellow colleagues, the wards of the state and the public."

County personnel rules say an employee can be fired, demoted or suspended if he is "guilty of conduct unbecoming of the county, whether on or off duty, provided allegations shall be specific and shall describe the conduct which is the basis of the charge."

"I expect when somebody offends the people that they work for in such an egregious manner, that they would be fired immediately," said Miami resident Daisy Tunstall.

On Wednesday morning, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue issued a statement, saying, "The investigation is well under way; 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."

Sources at Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said Beckmann has come in and spent hours being questioned, although the content of that conversation is unknown. Beckmann is protected by the Firefighters' Bill of Rights and against self-incriminating statements. He also has the right to be accompanied by a union representative and a lawyer.