Six firefighters have been fired from the Miami Fire-Rescue Department after crudely defacing a Black lieutenant’s family photos with a noose and obscene drawings.
The Black lieutenant, whose name was not identified by the department, stumbled across vandalized photos of his wife, a child, and his grandmother on Sept. 9. The photos were taken out of their frames and defaced with erect and ejaculating penises on his family members’ faces. One photo even had a noose thrown over it, in a reference to lynching.
20 fire-rescue employees were interviewed during a civil investigation into the incident, with 11 suspended without pay. Five may face additional discipline. Meanwhile, the six firefighters dismissed from the force each received termination letters this week, directly outlining their role in the vandalism.
According to the Associated Press, this ranged from contributing to the photos’ vandalism to lying to investigators about the incident. Two of the six firefighters were also supervisors. One even helped with the vandalism and encouraged his subordinates to join in on the defacement.
“You engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer when members under your direct supervision defaced several personal photos of a fellow firefighter with graphic and obscene phallic renderings,” one letter addressed to Capt. William W. Bryson read, according to journalist Glenna Milberg. “You failed to dutifully act as an officer with the knowledge that the defacing were [sic] taking place, and were complicit to the acts.”
Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban criticized the vandals’ behavior as well, calling the defacement “a hideous, distasteful act of hate.”
“This was immediately reported to my staff, and as a result, I personally responded to the station,” Zahralban said, BuzzFeed News reports. “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.”