Race: Hanging Tight or the Big Squeeze?

The Miami Four

Miami Herald

According to the Miami Herald, in 2017 “a group of Miami firefighters working at historic Charles Hadley Park Fire Station 12, thought it would be funny to draw penises on framed family pictures of a co-worker who wasn’t at the station that night.”

The coworker was Lieutenant Robert Webster, a black man.

Harold Santana, Kevin Meizoso, Justin Rumbaugh and Lt. Alejandro Sese were terminated for their actions as was their commander William Bryson.

And there things sat for 17 months, until this past week when Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle filed criminal charges against the four, a most unusual event.

State Attorney Rundle referred to the actions of the four as, “boorish, callous, abusive behavior.”

So it may be, but how often does boorish behavior result in criminal charges?

One more detail.

At the same time the photos were defaced, a noose was laid around them; no one admitted to doing so and the identity of the perpetrator was never uncovered.

Perhaps the State Attorney isn’t giving up on that point and has decided to squeeze the quartet to set tongues wagging.

As Lt. Webster said at the news conference where the charges were announced, “Research the history and understand what the significance of the hangman’s noose means,  it’s not a prank. It’s something more sinister than that.”

Lt. Webster (Herald)

Over 3,000 people were lynched in the United States between about 1880 and 1950; almost all were blacks with the balance being immigrants.

A noose is a symbol of terror and its use constitutes a hate crime designed to foment fear.

If the State Attorney is, indeed, pressing the case, she is to be commended for not giving up on finding out who the culprit is.

The Miami case is a welcome reminder that when fire crew conduct slops over into demeaning behavior and worse that the penalties can be both severe and long lasting.






1 Comment

  • Cathleen Cody says:

    Lynchings reached their peak in the 1920s, within the lifetime of my parents, and occurred in not just Southern states. This is why the noose retains its horrific connotations. Sad to see Miami ffs, who live in such a vibrant, cultured city, stoop to such hateful actions. It’s a lack of leadership, and I don’t refer just to their shift leader. It’s a lack of leadership on the part of each of the ff’s – character, self-respect and integrity that make up a sacred trust between fellow ff’s and with the public they serve.

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