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Protesters Demand Slapping Officer Be Fired

A group protesting an officer slapping a homeless man spent several hours outside Fort Lauderdale City Hall Tuesday evening to get a message across to city leaders.

"We want the city commission to hear us loud and clear that they need to fire this cop, immediately," homeless advocate Jeff Weinberger said.

The officer the group is referring to is Victor Ramirez, who was recorded pushing a homeless man to the ground, then slapping him.

"There should be a zero tolerance on the police force for this type of thing. This sets a precedent that you can just go around pushing people around and slapping them in the face," protester Amy Gridder said.

According to Officer Ramirez's narrative of the incident, while he was escorting Bruce Laclair toward the outside of the bus terminal, Laclair pulled away in a violent manner.

The officer said he reacted by "pushing Laclair away from me to keep him from attacking me." As for the slap, Officer Ramirez states he struck him on the side of his face after Laclair tried grabbing his wrist.

"This slap rose out of a culture of abuse of homeless people which has been part and parcel of Fort Lauderdale's take on homeless people for many years," Weinberger said.

Although Officer Ramirez has been suspended from the department with pay, the outraged group said that isn't enough.

"If someone gets fired from their job and they don't have a contract and they're not on the police force and they're not in a union, which most people aren't anymore, they would be fired immediately and not given a paid vacation," Gridder said.

Fort Lauderdale's Police chief was at the protest earlier Tuesday, and said the incident is still under investigation. The outcome of the investigation will determine whether or not Officer Ramirez keeps his job.

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