A fire chief in South Carolina has been placed on administrative leave and apologized for posting racially charged comments on his Facebook page urging police to stop responding to Black neighborhoods.
Fire Chief Francis “Butch” Ghent of the McDonald Green Volunteer Fire Department in Lancaster County, SC, has singed apologized and has been placed on administrative leave.
Department officials say Fire Chief Francis “Butch” Ghent of the McDonald Green Volunteer Fire Department in Lancaster County has been relieved of his duties pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Ghent posted on his personal social media account: “Dear Police, stop responding to these Black neighborhoods. They will eventually kill each other and the fake news won’t have a story.”
In a written apology to city and county leaders and the community, Ghent claimed he was trying to “jab the news media after a fatal police shooting in Ohio,” WECT reported. The media reported on 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who was fatally shot by the police in Columbus, Ohio.
Ghent, who has since deleted the post, told WBTV, “I guess it was racially insensitive. I didn’t mean it that way.”
In the apology, the fire chief asked the Black community of Lancaster County to forgive his mistake and he said he knows he offended Black people, according to the Herald.
“I would like to apologize to the Black community of Lancaster and throughout the country,” Ghent’s statement said. “The post I made on Facebook was not meant to be an attack you but rather a jab at the news media.”
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The apology further stated, “My father instilled in me that the police were to be respected and honored no matter what. The media has done everything they can to demonize them to get a story and ratings. After the police shot and killed the teenage girl trying to kill another girl the media said he went too far. But if he had let her kill the other girl then they would have said he should have done more. The police can’t win in these violent confrontations. I lost it and made that post. The wording was very inappropriate but anger blinded my judgment.
“I would also like to apologize to my family, fire department, Lancaster County Fire Service, and the leaders of Lancaster County. I hope that my actions haven’t put you in harm’s way. I have served the residents of Lancaster County for over 40 years. I don’t see color in the residents that I serve. I help whomever calls with dignity and respect. I have many black friends and neighbors that I more than likely have offended. I am truly sorry.”
Many on Twitter were outraged.
Rep. Jermaine Johnson @Dr_JLJohnson of South Carolina, the former state campaign chairman for presidential candidate Andrew Yang, tweeted, “Francis ‘Butch’ Ghent needs to be banned from ever working with any fire department ever again. As a black person, I would be extremely terrified if he was tasked to serve my community. #BanFrancisGhent”
Another firefighter responded: “What’s unfortunate is that attitude exists throughout many police and fire departments. All of those people would be upset with you if you accused them but subconsciously without a doubt they think of minorities as less than themselves.”