MIAMI (WSVN) - Six City of Miami firefighters have been fired after investigators said someone hung a noose over a black co-worker’s family photos and drew sexually explicit drawings on them.
The firings come after the noose was found at Fire Station No. 12 on Sept. 8, triggering a police investigation.
According to The Miami Herald, their sources said, “…someone created a noose out of twine and hung it over a family photo of a black lieutenant.”
The Herald’s sources added, “Several of [the lieutenant’s] colleagues drew lewd pictures on several other photos, including one of his wife and one of his mother and his children.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso called the firefighters’ alleged actions “sexually explicit and racially offensive conduct.”
“The images were shocking, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s not new,” said the 17-year Miami Fire Department veteran whose family photos were targetted. “It served the purpose of letting me see how many people really were behind me and sympathized and empithized with what I was experiencing.”
The firefighters who were fired were identified by officials on Thursday as:
- Capt. William Bryson
- Lt. Alejandro Sese
- Kevin Meizoso
- Justin Rumbaugh
- David Rivera
- Harold Santana
Officials said the firefighters’ actions have been categorized as criminal mischief and vandalism.
Alfonso’s statement reads in part, “It is the policy of the City of Miami to provide a workplace for all employees that is free from intimidation, threats or violent acts. As a result, six members of the Department of Fire Rescue have been terminated,” the statement said. “We cannot and will not tolerate behavior that is disrespectful, hurtful and compromises the integrity of the department and the City of Miami.”
In the statement, Alfonso said, “Initially, personnel from that station were transferred to other stations. Then 11 were relieved of duty with pay.”
These measures ultimately led to the termination of six firefighters.
“I could understand why someone would not like me. They don’t like the way I look,” said the victim. “But when you take children and loved ones and drag them into whatever hate it is you have — or whatever grudge it is you have — you are someone who has no concern for collateral damage.”
Regalado and Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban are scheduled to address Wednesday’s firings at a press conference scheduled for Friday morning.
“Tomorrow we will reveal troubling issues about this incident,” said City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. “There are some details we are getting today, so the fire chief, myself and the city manager will be giving out all the details of this incident.”
The Miami Herald reports, “Investigators could not determine who made the noose, according to sources.”
Officials said additional personnel at the station are under investigation in relation to the incident. “Findings could result in disciplinary actions ranging from suspensions to demotions,” said Alfonso.
Wednesday night, Freddy Delgado, the president of the Miami Association of Firefighters, issued a statement that reads, “We expect all of our members to be provided a safe, comfortable workplace and also to fair and complete investigations and just discipline when it’s warranted. We have not yet been provided with all the information that the city relied upon in making the decisions it did today. We are very disturbed by the allegations and look forward to the opportunity to review all the facts.”
“This did not come from a happy place. And to me, like I said, that’s the starting point for any joke, is that it has to come from a good place in the person who’s perpetrating the joke or the prank,” said the victim.
This is not the first time an incident of this nature has happened in South Florida. Back in August, a Pompano Beach firefighter lost his job and three others resigned after they reportedly left a noose on the chair of recruit Vilbert Green, who is black.
“It represents hatred. It represents death to African-Americans, and we won’t tolerate that here,” Pompano Beach Fire Rescue Chief John Jurgle told 7News at the time.
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