Six firefighters were fired for defacing a black colleague's photo with a noose
Workplace racism doesn't get much worse than this. Six firefighters in the City of Miami Department of Fire-Rescue have been fired for performing a "hideous, distasteful act of hate". What did they do? Well, they covered their black colleague's family photos with "lewd and sexually explicit renderings," and, most troublingly, they draped a white noose over one of the photos. The implication of the noose, of course, is obvious.
Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban was appalled:
"This was immediately reported to my staff, and as a result, I personally responded to the station. Appalled by my observation, I immediately requested the Miami Police Department investigate the matter and temporarily transferred all personnel assigned to that station, per our department policy."
When six of your colleagues disrespect you and your race so severely, it's an unforgivable situation. The black firefighter who was the victim of this racism was a lieutenant, and had served for 17 years. Atlantic writer Vann Newkirk II found it a bit awkward, to say the least:
"It is the policy of the Department of Fire Rescue to provide a workplace for all of our employees that is free from intimidation, threats or violent acts. Our department is a diverse organization rich in tradition and we hold Honor, Integrity and Respect for our fellow firefighters in the highest regard. These are expectations I place on myself, my staff and every individual under my command as we continue to stand ready to serve our community."
The investigation didn't go well for those six officers. They were fired on November 1st, for failing to comply with orders, requests, lying and otherwise covering up their role in the racist defamation. They covered a photo of their colleague with "graphic and obscene phallic renderings", but it was also found that 11 total members of the firefighters' department had "some involvement with the incident" and were, according to ABC News, "relieved of duty".
Here's the letter announcing their firing:
The six firefighters fired were the ones directly involved in drawing the images and placing the noose on the photos. Among them was one lieutenant and one captain.
City Manager Daniel Alfonso also made a statement:
"City of Miami Fire Rescue is an ethnically and racially diverse department and one of the best in the country. The priority as first-responders is to work as a team to be of service to our community. We cannot and will not tolerate behavior that is disrespectful, hurtful and compromises the integrity of the department and the City of Miami."
This is a pretty wild case. For eleven of your co-workers to unite in order to racially insult you must take an absolutely massive helping of insanity. Who were these eleven men who worked silently for so long before revealing their unrepentant racism? Did they plan this out, thinking they were invincible and would not be caught?
It's a good thing they were caught and fired, and we hope that in the future, cases like these result in some form of justice.