City officials will employ whatever measures they can including firing Miami Police Cpt. Javier Ortiz, who challenged commissioners about his race and ethnicity at a meeting Friday.
Chief Jorge Colina has no fear in dealing with Ortiz, and will do whatever is warranted to punish him, Mayor Francis Suarez said Saturday.
“He will explore his options and can do whatever’s legally permitted to do,” Suarez said of Colina, who is fending off calls for removal.
Since the meeting, Suarez and the chief have spoken about Ortiz, who has repeatedly made public, racially charged statements. When Ortiz was president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, he encouraged people to boycott a Beyoncé concert in Miami because he didn’t like one of her music videos and called slain 12-year-old Tamir Rice a thug who deserved to die.
Friday, Ortiz revealed his racial makeup as Black because, he said, some of his family members are Black.
“I’m a Black male, yes I am. And I am not Hispanic. I was born in this country,” Ortiz told commissioners.
When Commissioner Keon Hardemon asked as what race did Ortiz apply to join the police department, Ortiz said white.
"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."
Suarez called Ortiz’s comments “not good.”
The Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP released a statement Saturday via Instagram saying its member are disturbed.
"After reviewing the [meeting] video, we the members find his comments disturbing. And in the manner of how he used them [his comments], we find it disturbing, to say the least," the statement read.
Ortiz's comments came in the part of the meeting that was scheduled to deal with racial equity in the Miami Police department. The Miami Community Police Benevolent Association last year called for the ouster of Colina, who it said mishandled racial issues, like Ortiz’s application. Colina last week demoted Maj. Dana Carr, a Black female officer.
Sgt. Stanley Jean-Poix, president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association, has alleged racism and discrimination and issued a “No Confidence” statement against Colina. Jean-Poix outlined his displeasure with Ortiz before Friday’s incident. “Captain Ortiz has continued to prove that his actions can be a liability and can destroy the decades of community policing efforts.”
Suarez regrets that the issues had to spill over into the commission meeting. He’s confident that a resolution can be had soon.
“I am happy to be mediator between the union, the officers and the chief,” he said.