MIAMI - An arbitrator on Wednesday ruled in favor of a former Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue captain who was demoted after he posted comments to Facebook about Trayvon Martin following the teenager's shooting death.
Brian Beckmann was demoted in May 2012 after posting: "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. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Faye Davis forwarded a screenshot of the post to the blogger.
Beckmann and the county made their cases to an arbitrator, who reduced Beckmann's suspension to two weeks, which he already served; restored his rank to fire captain; and, ruled he receive the balance of back pay from when he was demoted.
READ: Arbitrator's ruling
The county argued Beckmann violated its social media policy by speaking on behalf of his fellow coworkers in his private post.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement, saying: "While I respect the arbitration process, I'm disappointed by the arbitrator's finding in this case. Clearly, his finding highlights the need to amend County procedures to properly reflect the powers of a Strong Mayor. That said, we must always hold our County employees to a higher standard, and given the offensive and inflammatory remarks made by Mr. Beckmann – a member of a diverse organization that serves an equally diverse community – a quick slap on the wrist just isn't good enough. I stand by the original decision to demote him, a punishment that was far more befitting of the offense."
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