Baltimore firefighter initiates wild noose chase

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a note and knotted rope were found at a city fire station, touching off a probe by local and Federal officials.

Less than two weeks later, one of the two firefighters has confessed to planting it, and the backpedaling is in overdrive.

Wait a minute, here. If you want equality, don’t adjust your reaction based on the color of the actor. Personally, I think the whole noose thing on a nationwide basis has been blown out of proportion, but that aside, the bandwagon which expected to find a white person at the root of this was sadly disappointed and has to shut off the lights, music, and speeches. Spin is now the order of the day. I call bullshit.

Expressions of racial hatred do not belong in the workplace, be they perpetrated by one race against another, or fabricated. As to the issue of racial tension in BCFD, maybe if all applicants met the standards, advanced in grade per departmental expectations, and passed promotional exams legitimately, there would be no basis for allegations to the contrary.

Oh my God. NewSpeak, meet Rabbit Hole. Rabbit Hole, NewSpeak. From the President of the Baltimore NAACP :

My boggle meter is at eleven. I despair, I really do, that race relations are repairable when shit like this is spewed about. Got it. If a Black guy fakes a racist act, it’s because racism is so fucking pervasive. You know, you’d think that if things were really that bad, there might be an *actual *racist act to complain about.

One might even think that the state of race relations is what it is, in part, because shit like this is spewed about.

Er - what? Is he suggesting that this incident never took place?

They are treating each other “that way”, in whatever “way” is suggested by displaying a noose. That isn’t changed by the color of the firefighters involved.

In some ways it is worse - one fire fighter is making what amounts to false accusations against his co-workers - that they want to lynch him. I would imagine that this is at least as bad for morale as a noose would have been.


Love the thread title!

From what I heard on the radio yesterday, the firefighter will not be charged with any crime.
They’re saying it was not a hate crime (since he did it himself), but that it was a hoax and there are no precedents for charging him with anything.

Bullshit, IMO.
Charge the guy with something (there’s gotta be something illegal about what he did; filing a false police report at the least), fire him without any benefits, and make him pay back all the money that was spent on the investigation.
And a very public apology.

Oh, and a cite:
What Maryland defines as a hate crime.

Article 27 470A - Religious and Ethnic Crimes, from here

Sure sounds like a hate crime to me. He displayed a hate group symbol, and the motive (to me, at least) was to harm or intimidate a particular group.

Why FPA Donald Maynard is not being charged is just fucking beyond me.

Black on black hate has got to end, yo.

Maybe the authorities read danceswithcats’ last thread on the subject: Holy linguistic bullshit, Batman! “Noose” does not equal abuse!

“I know you’re mad at me right now, and I’m kinda mad too. I mean, we could sit here and try to figure out ‘who forgot to pick up who’ until the cows come home. But let’s just say we’re both wrong and that’ll be that.”

–Homer Simpson to Bart, after leaving him waiting for hours in the rain


He’s not being charged because, despite the fact that he did a ridiculous and stupid thing, what he did was NOT a hate crime. Your interpretation of that website is incorrect, because you failed to take into account the totality of what constitutes a hate crime. The part you left out is crucial to the definition.

From your link:

Bolding mine.

The act itself has to be criminal. The “hate crime” part is an enhancement. That is, it can turn a regular crime INTO a hate crime. But if no crime was initially committed, then the displaying of hate symbols does not, by itself, constitute a crime. I believe that most states with hate crime laws make a similar distinction.

So, if the guy in question had, for example, vandalized or burned down the fire station, and left a noose and a message, then the criminal act (arson, vandalism) could probably have been charged as a hate crime because there were hate symbols present. But there’s no crime against leaving a piece of rope lying around, so there is no hate crime here.

Just a very stupid firefighter, who should be fired for his actions.

And here’s the actual text of the relevant law, from the Maryland Annotated Code:

Well, let’s see -[ul][li]Racial statement? “White people are bigots”. Check.[]Hate group symbol? A noose. Check. []Motive? To harm or intimidate a particular group or organization, like white fire fighters. Check.[]When the victim perceives it as a hate crime? The mayor certainly seemed to see it as a hate crime. []Ergo, hate crime.[/ul][/li]


The act itself has to be a crime, BEFORE the hate crime provisions can come into effect. I’m not arguing that none of the elements were present. What i’m arguing is that there was no actual crime to which those elements were attached. The displaying of a hate symbol by itself does not constitute a crime, as far as i can tell from the Maryland Code.

Hell, even Bibliocat’s link makes clear that the factors you cite need to be part of the motivation for an actual criminal act before the act is considered a hate crime. But you, like Bibliocat, omitted the relevant section.

I’ll tell you what: here’s the complete text of the Hate Crime section of the Maryland Code—not someone else’s summary, which is what Bibliocat provided. Why don’t you tell me which section would allow the criminal prosecution of the firefighter in question:

There was a crime. He made a false report to the police, then recanted later. He has also now been fired for failing his EMT exams, a politically expedient, weaselly way to get rid of him without having to confront what he actually did. All hail the BCFD, a blazing beacon of courage and equality for all!


Which crime occurred after, and separate from, the incident of placing the noose. Thus, still not a hate crime. Which is the only argument i have been making here.

Aaaaaaand the NAACP continues its shameful decline into irrelevance.

Granted, there may indeed be racial issues in that department, and hell, yeah, Maynard has issues, but for this guy to put this kind of spin on things is just…wow.

No, Mr. Cheathem, what should really sadden us is to to see this kind of crap coming from a once venerable civil rights organization.

mhendo offers a reasonable argument, however, I disagree.

Bolding mine.

Section (a) describes the crime which FPA Maynard committed when he claimed to have “discovered” the note and rope, which he had indeed placed there, himself.

Yes, he placed the note and rope there himself.

The question then becomes whether, having placed them there, the act of placing them constitutes part of the crime of filing a false police report.

Even IF we accept that it does, i’m still having trouble working out which part of the statute would apply. Let’s have a look at them:

§ 10-301. Definitions clearly does not apply.

§ 10-302. Damaging property of religious entity clearly does not apply.

§ 10-303. Obstructing exercise of religious belief clearly does not apply.

§ 10-305. Damage to associated building clearly does not apply.

§ 10-306, § 10-307, § 10-308 all deal with penalties, sentencing, and religious freedom. They don’t apply to this case.

That leaves us with § 10-304.

§ 10-304. Crimes; destruction of property is a possibility, so let’s have a look.

Part 1 of that section explicitly outlines the type of action required to activate the hate crime legislation, to wit:

While he did commit a crime, the crime he committed was against the police, not against the firemen. So, the “hate symbol” was not directed at the people against whom the crime was committed. This seems to rule out (i).

He did not damage real or personal property, ruling out (ii).

He did not deface, damage or destroy real or personal property, so (iii) is out also. And no, i would not accept that the placing of a rope and a note constitutes defacement. I’ll bet he law doesn’t either.

He did not burn, or attempt to burn, anything, so (iv) is out.

That leaves us with part (2) of this section, which seems to me to offer the greatest possibility of charging the guy with a hate crime. It says:

It seems, from part (i) here, that a separate crime (such as filing a false police report) might, in fact, trigger the hate crime legislation in a case like this. There is no mention in the law of how close the two incidents have to be in time and space, although it seems to me that the filing of a police report is a substantially different act.

But, even if i’m wrong, and the two acts (leaving the noose, and filing the police report) can be considered part of a single crime, it still won’t qualify as a hate crime. Look at the language of (2) (i), and note where it requires a “separate crime that is a felony”. Then go back to danceswithcats’ quote regarding the false statement, and note the part where it says that “A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor”.

Felony =/= misdemeanor.

Oddly enough, although Maynard’s action falls short of prosecution under the statute of hate crime as defined above, the result of his act is addressed by various sources.

From the New York State Hate Crimes Act of 2000:

From a United States Department of Justice paper on hate crimes:

It is obvious that Maynard intended the act to be perceived as perpetrated by a white member of BCFD, adding to the racial discord resultant from charges of cheating on promotional exams by blacks, and unqualified minority individuals being placed in recruit classes.

Perhaps the healing will begin when Mayor Dixon, Henry Burris, and “Doc” Cheatham stop the doublespeak, spin, and bullshit they have collectively contributed to the issue of race in BCFD. I’m not holding my breath.