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Reactions continued to roll in Monday to comments that a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue captain made about the Trayvon Martin case on his personal Facebook page, as the department said it would keep investigating the incident and report its findings to Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said in a statement that the comments from Capt. Brian Beckmann "are the opinion of the individual, and does not reflect the feelings of the department as a whole."
Reactions continued to roll in Monday to comments that a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue captain made about the Trayvon Martin case on his personal Facebook page, as the department said it would keep investigating the incident and report its findings to Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said in a statement that the comments from Capt. Brian Beckmann, who has been with the county since 1997, “are the opinion of the individual, and does not reflect the feelings of the department as a whole.”
According to the website thegrio.com, the Facebook post in question appeared on Beckmann’s personal page last Wednesday, the day that State Attorney Angela Corey, the special prosecutor for the case, announced that George Zimmerman, 28, would face a second-degree murder charge for his Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, 17, of Miami Gardens. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense and has pleaded not guilty.
A screenshot of Beckmann’s post was sent to thegrio.com, a news website which reports stories affecting African-Americans, which is owned by NBCUniversal.
In it, Beckmann had disparaging words for the prosecutor, then pondered “whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, (expletive), ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents, but like Mrs. Corey, we speak only the truth. They're just misunderstood little church going angels and the ghetto hoodie look doesn't have anything to do with why people wonder if they're about to get jacked by a thug,” he wrote, according to thegrio.com.
Beckmann defended his post in a Facebook message to thegrio.com, writing, “I am a private citizen and have the same right to freely express an opinion on any subject that anyone else does. I choose not to embellish or alter the facts as your employer chose to do.”
The post has set off a firestorm of activity on Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's official Facebook page, with some people urging the department to fire Beckmann, and others defending his right to free speech.
"Captain Brian Beckmann’s comments are unbecoming of someone who has taken an oath to serve the public. All of the public,” wrote one commenter.
Another simply writes “freedom of speech."
The latest post on the page Monday night asked for a long-term view.
“I think we should judge this man on his career and not a one-time post,” it said. “Situations have everyone on edge and from what I see this man has dedicated his life to saving everyone else's, alongside the rest of the dept.”
Mayor Gimenez said Monday he has asked the fire department director to investigate if county policies have been violated, and when the investigation is done he will decide what action to take.
Beckmann’s initial post has since been deleted, but he elaborated on his career experience in a second Facebook message to thegrio.com.
“I have given 12 of my 16 years to Liberty City and Homestead/Florida City. I've never asked what color, gender, or race someone was before crawling into their burning home,” he wrote, according to the website. “I've been injured 6 or 7 times requiring multiple surgeries while serving low income communities. The truth is that the low income communities get the youngest, freshest, healthiest (firefighters) in any municipalities because seniority puts the older guys in more comfortable houses. Those are generally not in urban or industrial areas."