Detroit firefighter suspended for racially charged comments
DETROIT - A Detroit firefighter-in-training has been suspended after posting racially charged comments on social media and taking aim at the Black Lives Matter movement. Now the city is investigating.
Matt Gabrielson was suspended Wednesday after he posted comments on social media against the black community.
Charles Bell teaches at EMU and Oakland University. He's also a member of the Black Lives Matter Detroit movement and says he's disturbed by the comments.
"I definitely think he should be terminated, immediately, and it should send a message that black lives do matter," Bell said.
The posts in question are laced with profanities. One was a picture of Gabrielson holding an Ebony magazine with the caption "who reads this **** lol." Another post from Gabrielson's page says: "it's ridiculous with all these black life matters followers -- it's time to label these **** bags as a hate group with all of the police murders -- so they retaliate and shut the **** up."
"He should be fired and that should be the end of the story. Black lives matter," Bell said.
A comment on that last post is especially troubling with Gabrielson writing "It's about to be a new sport -- urban **** hunt."
Fire and city officials held a procedural hearing Wednesday morning with Gabrielson and discussed the next step. The Executive Fire Commissioner, Edsel Jenkins, released this statement to Fox 2, saying:
"Late last week, we received complaints from members of the public and Fire Department employees concerning offensive comments on social media. The probationary Detroit firefighter involved has been suspended without pay pending an investigation into the matter."
FOX 2 called Gabrielson, who is still a trial firefighter, for a comment Wednesday. He said he could not comment but he did offer a message:
"I am currently suspended pending an investigation. I was advised by my union to not disclose any information."
Friends of Gabrielson say they believe Gabrielson's intention was likely to say that 'all lives matter' not that black lives don't matter. Gabrielson has since deleted his Facebook page.
City officials say Wednesday's proceedings were more of an interview as part of their investigation into this incident. Officials say there will be some follow-up based on the information shared -- then a recommendation will be made to the fire commissioner on whether or not Gabrielson will be fired.