The story of the “Facebook 4” has gone national. Blogs are bursting with comments all over the worldwide web. And people, in general, are outraged at the action taken by Columbus Mayor Robert Smith and three city councilmen in suspending Minga, Estes and Luckey and allowing (maybe even encouraging. RW) Fireman Brad Alexander to resign. With no policy to take action from, that fact only magnifies the outrage.
Alexander made a post (on his Facebook page. RW) commenting about the absent mother of a 2-year old who was hit by a vehicle. Noted as derogatory in nature (An upset and emotional Alexander, obviously frustrated about the child being left unattended made a comment about wishing he could fix it where the mother couldn’t have any more babies, though also reportedly never mentioning the mother or the family by name. RW), the main point of the post was to question the mother’s whereabouts when the child was struck. It’s a question that – because of the national attention this incident is receiving – apparently millions also want to know…’Where was the Mother?’ (We now know that the mother was on her way back from school.. The grandmother and an aunt were on a nearby porch. -RW)
Not long after being called out on the Facebook post by Columbus Fire Chief Ken Moore, Alexander had an impromptu meeting with Moore and Columbus Mayor Robert Smith. Alexander agreed to resign (apparently rather than being fired. RW).
Fellow Firefighters Minga and Estes were suspended for 30 days without pay (a 3-3 council tie vote, with Mayor Smith breaking the tie to uphold the suspensions, sealed their fate. -RW) and Police Officer Lance Luckey for simply hitting the ‘Like’ button on the comment. All of this with absolutely no specific policy governing the posting of comments on social media sites, or especially simply ‘Liking’ the comment.
But now, the focus is on helping the ‘Facebook 4′ pay medical bills, pay other bills, support their families and put food on the table during their suspensions. The loss of medical insurance is by far the utmost of concern. With no paycheck, no insurance premiums are being paid. And for some (Alexander pays a reported $1000 in insurance premiums monthly. -RW), that can be a whopping amount!
Columbus restaurant ‘American Deli’ wants to help and other Columbus businesses are getting on board as well. A Facebook site called ‘For Those Who Serve’ has been set up to take donations from those who wish to help these First responders. If you’d like to help or donate, you can find it here https://www.facebook.com /#!/ForThoseWhoServe
Last week, in lambasting Mayor Robert Smith, Councilmen Gene Taylor, Joseph Mickens and Fred Stewart and Columbus Police Chief Selvain McQueen, I left out Fire Chief Ken Moore, because it was Moore and McQueen’s recommendation of a 30 day suspension without pay that resulted in the suspensions being brought forth, though I’m sure at the urging from higher up.
The First responders are the heart of this city! They are professionals and deserve our gratitude. They care about us. They care about our families. They have a tough, often thankless job. Just this week, Alexander helped on an emergency call. His expertise was said to be extremely helpful as he took charge of the situation, assisting wreck victims when he didn’t have too on Hwy 82.
But, they are also human beings with emotions. Alexander’s post on Facebook was irresponsible, human emotion and he has paid the price for it. He apologized and resigned. The other two firemen and police officer are a different story altogether.
Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com0