During an exchange at the City of Miami's commission meeting today regarding alleged acts of racism against black employees at the Miami Police Department (MPD), former union head Capt. Javier Ortiz — a powerful and politically connected cop who's been accused of acts of racism and brutality against black citizens in numerous complaints and lawsuits — stood in front of commissioners and claimed he's black. He also referred to black men as "Negroes."
"I'm a black male," he said. "Yes, I am. And I am not Hispanic. I was born in this country. That's how I feel."
#BREAKING: @MiamiPD Capt. @OrtizFOP tells city commission "I am a black male" after he was caught lying about his race on 2014 lieutenant's exam and 2017 captain's application — his original MPD application says he's white Hispanic #BecauseMiami pic.twitter.com/meaJ2mlQGn— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) January 17, 2020
Ortiz, who repeatedly made racist statements online while president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, was speaking to the commission after the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association (MCPBA), a union for black officers, complained last year that MPD Chief Jorge Colina was ignoring acts of racism in the department. The MCPBA produced documents showing Ortiz claimed he was black in his 2014 lieutenant application and his 2017 captain application. Ortiz, a vocal Donald Trump supporter who famously said 12-year-old Tamir Rice deserved to be shot dead by cops for acting like a "thug," showed up at the commission meeting to defend that he is indeed black.
Commissioner Keon Hardemon, smiling, asked whether Ortiz classified himself as black or white when he applied to work at MPD.
"I think I put white male — I know I put white male, but I don't know if I put Hispanic," Ortiz said. "No, listen, I know who I am."
Commissioner Joe Carollo, in a rare moment of calm, interjected.
"You put down Hispanic male, didn't you?" Carollo said.
"As a man, I stand by it," Ortiz bafflingly responded.
"When did you have this, uh, coming to, uh, God moment that you were black. When did God tell you that?" Carollo asked.
"Well, I learned that there are people in my family that are mixed and that are black," Ortiz replied.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"Let's not talk about the degree of blackness," Hardemon said.
"Oh, no, you're blacker than me — that's obvious," Ortiz responded. "And if you know anything about the one-drop rule, which started in the 20th Century, which is what identifies and defines what a black male is, or a Negro, you would know that if you have one drop of black in you, you're considered black."
A commotion soon ensued as Ortiz said he was part Jewish too. Not to be outdone, Carollo made a mildly transphobic joke.
"Mr. Ortiz claimed that he was, uh, black — now I hear he's Jewish-black," the commissioner said. "I'm afraid maybe next month he'd be a black Jewish woman. I don't know."