Miami City Attorney Tries To Erase Photos Of Fired Firefighters From The Internet
from the this-isn't-how-this-problem-gets-fixed dept
Six firefighters fired over a racist incident are the possible, but unlikely, beneficiaries of Florida public records law. Here’s how they ended up fired, via the Miami Herald, which broke the story. (h/t Boing Boing)
Miami’s fire chief on Thursday blasted six fired firefighters accused of draping a noose over a black colleague’s family photos, and released images of the “egregious and hateful” vandalism.
Photos of the scene at Fire Station 12, located on Northwest 46th Street near Charles Hadley Park, show that someone took a black lieutenant’s family photos out of their picture frames, drew penises onto the pictures, then reinserted them in their frames and placed them on a wood shelf next to a teddy bear figurine. Someone also hung a noose made of thin, white rope over one of the photos.
Five more firefighters are still under investigation. The six firefighters — Capt. William W. Bryson, Lt. Alejandro Sese, David Rivera, Harold Santana, Justin Rumbaugh and Kevin Meizoso — were all terminated after the completion of a Miami police investigation. We know their names and what they look like, thanks to the Miami Herald’s reporting and an apparent misstep by a Miami government agency.
On Thursday, ahead of a press conference scheduled for Friday morning with Miami’s mayor, Miami Fire Rescue also released the fired firefighters’ department photos even though Florida law exempts pictures of current and former firefighters from disclosure under the state’s broad public records laws.
Now, the city — facing a possible lawsuit from the firefighters union — is throwing CTRL-Z notices at local news agencies.
Just after midnight Friday morning, an assistant city attorney wrote an email to multiple news outlets demanding that the media “cease and desist from further showing the firefighters pictures in your coverage of this event.” Jones said the photos of the six men had been released accidentally.
“As former first responders, their photos are confidential and exempt under Florida’s public disclosure law and should not have been released,” wrote Kevin R. Jones.
Too bad. That’s a problem for the city, not journalists. The Miami Herald will be keeping the photos up. So will WPLG, which interviewed the victim of the racist acts. It’s been relegated to a sidebar, but the photos are still there.
ABC News has also kept the photos up, albeit as an image that lasts only as long as it takes for the autoplaying video to load. Those looking for a longer-lasting image will have to make do with the sidebar thumbnail.
The images are already out there. Telling the media to unpublish the photos is a ridiculous move. The union plans to sue the city for releasing the photos, but that’s not going to do anything to return the internet to the state it was in prior to the accidental photo dump.
As for the firefighters inadvertently left unprotected by this “violation” of Florida’s open records law, it would seem the best way to keep your photo from being displayed in stories about racist acts by public servants is refraining from engaging in bigoted acts while employed as public servants. Trying to turn online media sources into self-serving time machines only ensures maximum visibility.