South Carolina Officer Fired Over Picture in Confederate Flag Underwear
North Charleston PD Sergeant Shannon Dildine got fired for posting a photo of himself on Facebook wearing Confederate flag underwear. The photo was posted five days after Dylann Roof fatally shot nine black worshipers at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, which apparently made the situation worse.
Andrew Knapp with The Post and Courier reports:
In a federal lawsuit filed this week, Dildine said he was aware of a debate about the Confederate battle flag flying outside the Statehouse. To him, the banner represented defiance of big government. But he did not know, he said, that Roof used it as a symbol of white supremacy or hatred of black people.
City officials fired the officer within days, saying the image was inflammatory and showed poor judgment.
Dildine compared the photo with a picture taken a week earlier of the city’s black assistant police chief, Reggie Burgess, posing with members of the Black Lives Matter activist group. That Dildine was fired and the assistant chief was not is evidence of discrimination, he contended in the suit.
North Charleston officials stand by their decision. Mayor Keith Summey said in a recent interview that “it broke our hearts” to fire Dildine. “But it was the right thing to do,” he said.
When a police supervisor inquired about the photo the next day, he deleted it. He soon met with city and police officials, including Burgess. Summey’s special assistant, Julie Elmore, told him that the mayor was concerned with how the issue would be portrayed in the news media, the suit stated.
That’s when talk of the Burgess photo came up. Burgess had posed in a business suit about a week earlier with Black Lives Matter leaders. Summey and Burgess later made the decision to fire Dildine, the suit stated, but Burgess was not disciplined.
Dildine’s lawsuit cites various laws, including state provisions barring employees’ termination for expressing political beliefs. His bias claim, which faults the city for not firing black employees who displayed allegedly similar conduct, is rooted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Dildine exhausted all attempts to keep the job that he “took great pride in,” the suit stated. He then filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a procedural step that allowed him to sue.
Local activists continue to back the city’s handling of the ordeal. Ed Bryant, president of the NAACP chapter in North Charleston, said he was perplexed because Dildine’s suit equated the Confederate flag to Black Lives Matter…
Bryant is right about Black Lives Matter being different from the Confederate flag. Black Lives Matter is a movement that is made up in large part by criminals, whereas people who display the Confederate flag are made up in large part by people who drive pickup trucks. True story.
Our legal analysis of the situation: Sergeant Dildine’s argument about his assistant chief is comparing apples to oranges. Basically, his lawsuit is screwed if the city decides to fight it.
Sergeant Dildine did demonstrate extremely poor judgement, but not because of the photo, it was because when he was confronted about the photo, he turned to his assistant chief, the person in charge of making a decision to fire him, and he suggested that his assistant chief screwed up. Not a smart move, sarge.
In the end, Sergeant Dildine should never have been fired over taking a picture that is obviously a joke. The Confederate flag does have contesting meanings, but just as we expect the good ole’ southern boys to understand that it has racist roots, there should also be understanding from the other side that most people who display a Confederate flag aren’t trying to send a racist message. Hopefully this reminds everybody to review their Facebook privacy settings.
And for what it’s worth, we also don’t think that Assistant Chief Burgess needs to be fired for taking a picture with people who are representing an organization of criminals.