A fire official demoted for racially-charged comments in the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin is arguing his case in arbitration.
Former Miami-Dade Fire Rescue captain Brian Beckmann offered no apology for his comments, CBS Miami reports. He was demoted to the lowest rank of firefighter when a post on his private Facebook page in April 2012 went viral, enraging the local community he serves. It read, in part:
Listening to Prosecutor [Angela] Corey blow herself and her staff for five minutes before pre-passing judgment on [Martin's shooter] George Zimmerman.…I and my coworkers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, shitbag, ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents. 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.
"I agree with the entire statement in the context that I read it," Beckmann testified in front of an arbiter Wednesday, according to Local 10.
A screenshot of the original April post, which had been deleted, was first published on TheGrio.com. Beckmann's words prompted an outcry from Miami's black community, including a protest that called for his termination. Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, is a "well-respected" program coordinator at the Miami-Dade County Housing Authority, where she has worked for 23 years, according to the Miami Herald. His father Tracy Martin is a truck driver.
Martin's uncle attended the hearing, held on the day his nephew would have turned 18, reports CBS Miami. Also attending in support of the discipline was Elizabeth Judd, a black woman who served as president of a municipal employee's union. She told the station she fears Beckmann's view of black youth could affect the way he performs his job.
"If he minimizes my life, has no respect for me as a human being, then I’m suggesting that I could be dead," Judd said.
Local 10 reports Beckmann is arguing his rights to due process were violated. Miami-Dade County officials justified the demotion at a previous hearing, saying his comments were in violation of the county's social media policy.
The final decision on the arbitration, which the county and Beckmann's union agree will be binding, is due by May.