A Miami police officer has been suspended after claiming at a public meeting that he identified as a black man despite having previously identified himself as a white Hispanic male.
Miami police Capt. Javier Ortiz was named at a recent meeting of city commissioners , who form the city’s legislative body, as part of a complaint made by other officers that there is a disparity in the treatment of black officers in the department.
Ortiz was accused of having identified himself as a black man on police exams to get a promotion.
In November, the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association, which represents black officers, claimed that Ortiz was making a mockery of diversity initiatives.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told NBC News that Police Chief Jorge Colina informed him Ortiz has been “relieved of duty”.
He said: “In the coming days, I will be meeting with the Chief to further discuss. In the meantime, all law enforcement involved discipline is handled by the City of Miami Police Department.”
However Rubin Roberts, chairman of the NAACP’s Miami-Dade branch, told The Miami Herald that Ortiz should have been fired.
“The city should be made aware that the statement he made is incendiary,” he said. “He’s not in any way considerate of black men or women’s plight.”
Defending himself at the city commissioners meeting Ortiz claimed that there were black people in his family, that he identified as black and referred to the “one-drop rule,” a social and legal principle of racial classification that was widely used in the United States in the early part of the 20th Century.
The rule is based on an the assertion that anyone of African descent, no matter how small the ancestry, is considered black.
Ortiz denied being Hispanic, although he did admit to having identified himself as a white man in previous documents.
“Well, I learned that there are people in my family that are mixed, that are black,” Ortiz said. “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 man is, or a Negro.”
The Washington Post reported that Ortiz has been the subject of several complaints for what appeared to be racially biased viewpoints.
The paper said he “has also drawn heat for defending police involved in controversial shootings and insulting black boys and men killed by police.”
A video of Ortiz claiming to be black has gone viral.