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Detroit fire captain suspended over Facebook posts

May 17, 2017

The Detroit Fire Department has disciplined a captain for allegedly posting xenophobic and racist material on his Facebook page.  

According to David Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the more than 50 offensive posts targeted Muslims, Jews, blacks and immigrants, and some of the most offensive were posted when the captain was on duty.

Walid praised the leadership of the Detroit Fire Department.

"We are very thankful that the Commissioner contacted us immediately once he heard about the situation," said Walid, "And was swift to suspend Captain [Tim] Goodman without pay."

"The Detroit Fire Department prides itself on the delivery of service regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or religious affiliation,"  Executive Fire Commissioner Eric Jones wrote in a letter to Walid. "The current matters brought to light through the Council on American-Islamic Relations are profoundly disturbing and are already under investigation." 

In the letter, Jones said the captain had been placed on administrative leave without pay and that all Detroit Fire Department employees are expected to adhere to the departments's zero tolerance policy against discrimination.

Jones declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation.

Walid said he would like to see more diversity training and social media training in the Detroit Fire Department. He said the department should be "more explicit in explaining  that social media posts and being racist during work hours is not just a private matter that is a freedom of speech issue but it is something that is prohibited and should not be tolerated while working for the city of Detroit."

Earlier in May, CAIR-MI announced it had filed an EEOC complaint on behalf of a Detroit Fire Department paramedic who is Muslim. CAIR-MI said the paramedic reported a pattern of discriminatory acts over a period of years.

"The captain who has been suspended is the actual individual who the complaint that we've launched with the EEOC is referencing," said Walid.