Employees Fired For Trying To Hex Boss With Birdseed
Employees often go to great lengths to avoid getting laid off. They can start working weekends and late into the evening. They can chum up to the boss. Or they can perform an ancient Afro-Caribbean curse to make their manager disappear.
Two employees at the North Miami Police Department attempted a Santeria curse on the city manager, because of recently announced layoffs and budget cuts.
Police officer Elizabeth Torres and Police Chief Larry Gomer's secretary Yvonne Rodriguez asked a maintenance worker on the night shift if she had access to City Manager Lyndon Bonner's office at night. They wanted her to sprinkle the office with birdseed, they explained, to make Bonner miraculously up and leave, reports MSNBC.com.
The janitor, Esther Villaneuva, refused to do the employees' supernatural bidding; she expressed concern about security cameras monitoring the office, and that something evil might actually befall the manager, claims the report.
"I want to clarify that it's nothing malicious and nothing intended to hurt that person," explained Torres, when an internal affairs report on the incident was released last week. "Just, just it can be viewed as either a superstitious practice or a religious practice in the Santeria religion.... This is something I was raised with as a child, all these superstitions and this quasi-religion."
Villaneuva reportedly told her boss, which led to an investigation. Both Rodriguez and Torres, who have worked for the department for 15 and 24 years respectively, were ultimately terminated, according to WSVN. Torres later said that it was simply a harmless joke.
Santeria derives from the Yoruba religion, which African slaves imported to the Caribbean. It evolved into is current form in Cuba, with influences from Catholicism, and spread through Latin America and much of the U.S. after the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
There are 250,000 Santeria practitioners in the world, according to a 2007 court ruling in Texas, which agreed that one Santeria priest was within his constitutional rights for sacrificing goats and other animals in his home.
Could hexing your employer with birdseed be a constitutionally protected right too, like praying for your boss to get transferred? Probably not if it involves breaking into her office.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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