Roger Garrison of Georgia is no longer with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office after a resurfaced photo of him wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume came under questioning.
Garrison resigned from a state judicial watchdog agency after he was seen wearing a hood and robe worn by members of the white supremacist terrorist hate group. The man had led the sheriff’s office for nearly two decades before his retirement in 2016.
The photo in question was reportedly taken during a Halloween party when the former law enforcement officer was in his 20s. He was featured alongside another individual wearing traditional KKK attire; each person had a drink in his hand. It initially surfaced in early 2012, garnering a substantial amount of media attention.
However, Garrison maintained he had zero affiliation with the racist organization and that it was simply for recreational purposes inspired by a scene from Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” movie.
“I don’t deny it wasn’t stupid, looking back now, but there again I say what 21- or 22-year-old in this world hasn’t made some stupid mistakes?” Garrison told WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News at the time. “Everybody knows everything about my life. I would just ask that they look at my honor and my integrity and the things we’ve done for this Sheriff’s Office,” he added.
The man also claimed the unveiling of the photo was “purely political,” citing its closeness in timeline with when he was being challenged in the Republican primary. However, he won by 68 percent and had no challenger in the general election.
Critics on social media were furious, condoning Garrison’s action, including one Twitter user who commented, “That, my friends, is no costume.”
Another person was happy to see the former sheriff no longer on duty, writing, “Good that he resigned.” They added, “Now, he can put that up in his bedroom so he can see it everytime, as a reminder of why he is unemployed, and probably never get a job again, other with the proud boys.”
“No when it comes to costumes are usually pick something I want to be like Spiderman, a pirate, male gigolo. Not a clan member,” wrote a third.
On Thursday, Aug. 19, Garrison was appointed to the Judicial Qualification Commission’s investigative panel by House Speaker David Ralston.
However, when the question came up of whether Ralston knew about Garrison’s photo, Kaleb McMichen, a spokesman for Ralston, did not answer the question. Instead, without further elaborating, McMichen said, “Sheriff Garrison has resigned from the JQC,” and that “the speaker will appoint a replacement as soon as practical.”