- Faith & Family
The hearing to review the demotion earlier this year of Miami-Dade County fire fighter Brian Beckmann for derisive comments he posted online has been set for January, an official with the County Attorney’s Office informed the Miami Times. William Candela said that Beckmann’s appeals hearing to reverse his May 14, 2012 demotion from Captain to fire fighter as a result of a rant he posted on his personal Facebook page will be on January 14, 2013. On Facebook, Beckmann disparaged the judge in the Trayvon Martin murder case as well as Blacks in general. “The date has been set in stone,” said Candela who will argue on behalf of Miami-Dade County to uphold that disciplinary action.
The January hearing, which will be open to the public, is the latest episode in a continuing story that started last spring when Beckmann’s comments were originally posted online. Although the comments were removed and the Facebook account was soon removed, the image of the page posting was already captured and was published by Joy Reid of The Grio Report igniting a firestorm for the Department and County.
For retired county employee and local activist William Clark, who along with others pushed for Beckmann’s termination, there is still work to be done. Clark said that he believes that “victims are going to be absent. “ He said that he and others in Dade County’s Black community “are the victims of [Beckmann’s] remarks” because fire fighters are “first responders who go straight to the homes of the people.” Hence for him and others who question Beckmann’s commitment to protect, safety in the hands of someone like the embattled fire fighter is a concern. “I don’t want to take a chance with this guy saving me, we want the county attorney to subpoena the victims.” said Clark.
When asked about who will be called as witnesses, Candela said, “I am going to make the determination. I have not made it yet.” Candela said that such hearings are “really common” in a workforce that has “27,000 county employees.” They involve a union lawyer, a county attorney to argue opposing sides of the case, an independent arbitrator to hear the case, and witnesses called by each side.
Adding to the intrigue in the case, the Miami Herald published redacted copies of Miami-Dade County documentation relating to the case. In a county memorandum titled “Findings of Fact Report” sent by Dave Downey, Assistant Chief of Operations to Chief William Bryson on May 11, 2012, Beckmann denied that he wrote the statements that set off the controversy.
By José Pérez