A South Carolina fire chief has been relieved of his duties after sharing a racially insensitive post on social media suggesting that cops stop responding to calls from Black residents.
Francis “Butch” Ghent of the McDonald Green Volunteer Fire Department has been placed on a two-week leave following a post he wrote on his Facebook profile on Thursday, April 22. Ghent urged police to “stop responding to these Black neighborhoods.” He added, “They will eventually kill each other, and the fake news won’t have a story.”
Not long after his post began circulating the internet, Ghent, who had been on the force for more than 40 years, deleted the post and issued an apology to city and county leaders and community members in general, telling WBTV, “I guess it was racially insensitive. I did not mean it that way.”
Ghent claimed that he was simply trying to “defend the police from what he believes is the onslaught of the national news media.” “I don’t want to stir up unrest in our community. That’s not what I want to do. I want us to be together. I want us to heal,” Ghent told WBTV.
On Tuesday, the Rock Hill Herald reported that Ghent issued a written apology to the Black community of Lancaster County. Check out his complete statement below:
“I would like to apologize to the black community of Lancaster and through out the country. The post I made on Facebook was not meant to be an attack you but rather a jab at the news media.”
“My father instilled in me that the police were to be respected and honored not 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 to 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 harms 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. I made a mistake and am very sorry for it. I again ask for your forgiveness.”
Mark Rallings, President of the McDonald Green Department, revealed that officials were conducting an internal investigation into the incident. “It was the determination of these members to place Chief Ghent on administrative leave,” Rallings explained.
McDonald Green is an all-volunteer department. The department has its own leadership, and firefighters there are not county employees. Lancaster County officials said they have no authority to discipline Ghent.