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Here is the latest on the Miami firings. Six firefighters were sent termination letters on Wednesday after being accused of “sexually explicit and racially offensive conduct.” The firings surround a September 9 incident at City of Miami Fire Rescue Station 12. News reports identify the victim as Lt. Robert Webster. A noose and lewd drawings were left with Lt. Webster’s family photos.
One of the six fired is Captain William W. Bryson. He is the son of former Fire Chief William “Shorty” Bryson. Chief Bryson had previously been union president (more below).
Fred Delgado, the Miami International Association of Firefighters president, said in a statement the attack was disturbing.
Webster’s six colleagues — Capt. William Bryson, Lt. Alejandro Sese, David Rivera, Harold Santana, Justin Rumbaugh and Kevin Meizoso — were accused of trying to intimidate Webster, who is black, with a hanging noose.
Chief Joseph Zahralban didn’t tolerate the reported behavior and asked police to investigate, City Manager Daniel Alfonso said. During the investigation, Alfonso said, the city suspended 11 firefighters with pay.
“An investigation continues into lesser involvement by others who were at the station,” Alfonso said in a statement.
Several of his (Lt. Webster’s) colleagues also drew lewd pictures on several other photos, including one of his wife and one of his children and their grandmother, according to sources. Termination letters sent Wednesday said that firefighters “defaced several personal photos of a fellow firefighter with graphic and obscene phallic renderings.”
The incident is just the latest blemish for a fire department with a history of lewd pranks. Infamously, rookies in the late 1980s were handcuffed while other firefighters sat on their face during the perverse “scrotum on the head” hazing ritual. Four firefighters were fired, but reinstated after investigators determined that “scrotumizing” was an old department tradition.
Around the same time, the department’s union — under the leadership of then-Capt. Shorty Bryson — kicked out 64 black firefighters who claimed they were expelled over their support of the city’s affirmative action program. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission later found that the firefighters’ civil rights had been violated.