Texas Capt. fired for posting Obama lynching photo

A Facebook photo of President Obama with a noose around his neck, and other offenses, got the captain fired

Houston Chronicle

GALVESTON, Texas — A captain in the La Marque Fire Department has been fired for offenses that included posting an image on Facebook of President Barack Obama with a noose around his neck, according to a memo released by the department.

Capt. Alfred Decker, 46, also ordered the demolition of a house damaged by fire without allowing the owner to retrieve his valuables, according to a Feb. 5 memo from Fire Chief Gerald Grimm that outlined the reasons for his firing.

Grimm said Decker's combined actions showed incompetence, lack of good moral character, prejudice and discourtesy, according to the memo.

It called the post on his Facebook page that depicted Obama with a noose around his neck and the caption, "the making of a national holiday" as showing "inherent and indisputable connotation and underpinnings of a deliberate and willful action taken by Captain Decker to demonstrate apparent hatred, racism and prejudice toward African Americans and to create an offensive affront to the president of the United States."

Grimm, Decker and Decker's attorney could not be reached for comment. According to the memo, Decker said during a hearing last week that the depiction he posted of Obama was provided by a veterans organization and that he didn't realize that his page was publicly accessible.

His Facebook page also included a derogatory post about Houston Mayor Annise Parker. It shows a photo of Parker next to a news item saying the city of Houston was suing the Houston firefighter's pension fund. Decker wrote, "What a (expletive) (expletive)! Typical democrat what's (sic) something for nothing! She wants her share that she didn't earn!"

The house that Decker is accused of demolishing caught fire due to an electrical malfunction. Decker removed a safe from the home without legal authority, but refused to give the owner a chance to remove his valuables, the memo stated.

The removal of the safe was "a result of his obvious personal disdain and disrespect" for the owner, the memo states.

Decker's firing came after a hearing in which he showed no regret for his actions, the memo states.

Action applauded
Mary Ramos, treasurer for the Houston Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, applauded the La Marque fire chief's decision, adding that she was distressed by the post portraying Obama being lynched.

"No matter what, he's our national president and deserves our respect," Ramos said. "I would definitely look into it as a terrorist threat."

At U.S. Secret Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., an agent who gave his name only as Maxmillian, said the agency investigates reported threats to the president, but does not monitor the media. He declined to say what constituted a threat to the president.

Decker made national headlines in 2008 for giving a single mother a ticket for using the f-word in a La Marque Wal-Mart.

The woman, who reportedly became belligerent when then-assistant fire marshal scolded her at the store, received a ticket for disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor.

At the time of that incident, Decker was certified by the state of Texas as firefighter, peace officer, fire investigator and fire inspector.

The firing is among a growing number tied to social-media posts deemed inappropriate by employers. The Dallas Police Department fired a 911-operator last year who posted racist messages about African Americans, including one that compared them to animals.

Copyright 2014 Houston Chronicle
All Rights Reserved

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