Florida Firefighter Under Investigation Over Blackface Halloween Costume

A Florida firefighter is under investigation following a social media post showing him wearing blackface makeup at a recent Halloween party. Brevard County Fire Rescue has launched an investigation into the October 30, 2021 incident confirming that it involves one of their firefighters.

The post in question included a photo depicting two men in blackface and a woman in a “Cruella Deville-style costume” along with the caption “Yes, Denzel Washington and O.J. Simpson showed up to our party.” The woman in the photo posted it to her Instagram account, but subsequently removed it once a friend informed her of the offensive connotation of “blackface.” She later stated “I apologize for my ignorance in the post which offended people. I would never belittle someone or post content that targets another person.”

Before the post was removed, a Brevard County woman, Michele Spradley, shared it. According to News 6, Spradley said “I was completely shocked, disgusted. And every single person I shared that photo with has had the exact same reaction.”

Fire Chief Mark Schollmeyer from Brevard County Fire Rescue identified the firefighter as Jacob Johnson. The chief was quoted as saying:  “His behavior does not reflect the values of Brevard County Fire Rescue. Nor do his actions speak for the hundreds of hard-working firefighters in the agency doing great things every day.”

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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