FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) - Six Miami firefighters have lost their jobs after a twine noose was discovered hanging over a family photo belonging to a black colleague, the city's fire chief said on Thursday.
A hangman's noose is seen by many African Americans as a racist symbol of mob lynchings of blacks by whites in U.S. history, usually by hanging and without a trial.
The firefighters were dismissed on Wednesday. The photo, as well as two other family pictures belonging to a 17-year department veteran, were defaced with lewd drawings, Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
Zahralban called the actions a "distasteful act of hate in one of our fire stations."
More than 70 percent of the nearly 5,000 people lynched in the United States from 1882 to 1968 were blacks, according to the website of civil rights group The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
A fire department captain, a lieutenant and four firefighters were fired for defacing the photos or failing to report the incident, according to their termination letters.
"We cannot and will not tolerate behavior that is disrespectful, hurtful and compromises the integrity of the department and the City of Miami," City Manager Daniel Alfonso said in another statement emailed to Reuters on Thursday.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case.
The president of the local International Association of Firefighters, Freddy Delgado, said in an emailed statement, "We are very disturbed by the allegations and look forward to the opportunity to review all the facts."
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Andrew Hay)