By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
This past August 28, shortly after Miami-Dade firefighter Miguel Rodriguez arrived for work at the Miami International Airport station, he found an unsigned note in his locker. In big, bold block type, it read, "Hey you fucking black Dominican monkey do not come back to C shift nigger lover like you do not deserve to have this job you did not get enough last time ?????????? If you come back to C shift we will finish what we started."
Rodriguez, who is married to an African-American woman and was a corrections officer before becoming a fireman, alleges the note was authored by a co-worker on C shift.
It wasn't the first time the six-year firefighter has claimed harassment. Last year, after he reported several incidents, someone put a pair of blood-stained women's underwear in his clean linens. He even got into a fight with a co-worker, Lazaro Picallo, according to a police report. Though Rodriguez required six stitches, the report lists him as the aggressor. Calls to the fire department last Friday and Tuesday seeking comment from Picallo were not returned. There were no arrests.
Last week, Riptide online quoted Rodriguez identifying his tormentors. Those names were removed after the firefighters' attorney, Kendall Coffey, responded, "You quote an unauthenticated note and rely on nothing but rank speculation as to its creation." (Coffey did not respond to two phone messages seeking comment Tuesday).
The latest incident was brought up during new fire Chief William "Shorty" Bryson's confirmation hearings in front of the county commission last week. "This stuff cannot be tolerated," said Barbara Jordan, an African-American commissioner. It is a sensitive issue because Bryson, who is white, was accused of discriminating against African-Americans when he served as the City of Miami fire union president.
On Tuesday, Bryson told airport firefighters the note's author will be fired, according to two anonymous firefighters. Fire department spokesperson Griselle Marino declined to confirm that account but said, "The issue is currently under investigation. And the department is taking appropriate steps to ensure there are no further incidents of a similar nature."
in looking the article has been pulled. IMHO most likely due to the emotional Public outrage that has already begun to raise its ugly head. This is just the beginning of what will start as a snowball and end (again IMHO as one of our worst moments in the History of MDFR) Many members have made our previous leadership and the entire chain of command aware of a CANCER within this department. Why do I call it a cancer? Because it started small and was somewhat isolated but will now effect us all. Our chain of command was not only aware of it but actually seemed to participate and encourage it right up to the level of Division Chiefs level and above. Our new Chief will have to deal with this as it was dumped in his lap by past leadership. I stand buy my statement. All will have no choice but to pull their heads out of the sand. The truth will finally get out and there "will" be some accountability. Things are not being made up, they are exactly what they are. Some have tried to have this and other important issues addressed and were made out to be the bad guy's some even terminated for it. Things thought to be buried in the past will be seeing the light of day soon, very soon. It is not only my opinion but my personal experience that many have been living and working within a hostile, retaliatory, demeaning and self destructive environment for a long time. I personally have stood up and stated to all in attendance that what was being done was not only morally wrong but highly illegal and that I wanted no part of it. Only to be informed (in a response from the County) that it never happened. The storm we will be facing was never in my mind a question of "if" but "when" it would arrive.
I'm sure there is more to this story that it lets on but if a society where the life of its members depent one on the other this type of behavior is seen there is not much for the rest of us to hope for.