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Bigoted SC Mayor Fires Gay Police Chief

Latta, South Carolina Mayor Earl Bullard is taking a lot of flak after firing the city’s police chief, a lesbian woman who has been on the force there for two decades and who had, coincidentally I’m sure, recently concluded that Bullard had failed to do a background check on an appointee who allegedly had improperly used city vehicles.

Residents of Latta, South Carolina are calling into question the motivations behind Mayor Earl Bullard’s firing of Police Chief Crystal Moore, a 20-year veteran on the town’s police department.

Moore was unceremoniously relieved of her duties earlier this week after Bullard handed down a list of seven reprimands. Members of the city council have voiced their support for Moore and are condemning Bullard’s unilateral decision to fire Moore as an act of retribution, or worse: of outright homophobia.

Earlier this year, Moore — who is openly gay and the city’s first female police chief — opened an investigation into whether city vehicles were being used improperly by another city official. Among her findings was the fact that Bullard had failed to conduct a proper background check on the employee, Parks and Recreations Director Vontray Sellers.

In an apparent act of retribution, Bullard issued seven reprimands in a single day against Moore, the first reprimands she has ever received in more than 20 years on the force, before firing her on Tuesday.

A member of the city council then released the audio of a phone call with Bullard spewing anti-gay bigotry:

“I would much rather have someone who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children, because that ain’t the damn way that they’re supposed to be,” Bullard says on the call. “I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that’s the way they want to live. But I’m not going to let my child be around. I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it, and I’m not going to see them do it with two men neither. I’m not going to do it, because that ain’t the way the world works.”

Sounds like discrimination to me. Of course, South Carolina has no anti-discrimination law that protects LGBT people from being fired, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be political consequences for the mayor.

Comments

  1. says

    “I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it…”
    Be aware of it? Now the kid will be safe from knowing “those people” exist, thank Jeebus.

  2. matty1 says

    “I would much rather have someone who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children”

    1. She wasn’t employed looking after your child, she was working as a police chief.

    2. Please define exactly what you mean by ‘questionable around children’, taking full account of things like evidence and libel laws.

  3. eric says

    The timing seems more like retribution to me. Yeah, it looks like Bullard is a bigot. But if they’ve been mayor and police chief for years, and he’s only firing her now after she investigated on of his appointees, that IMO says political retribution.

  4. says

    “but that doesn’t mean there can’t be political consequences for the mayor.”

    In South Carolina? It may help him win the next election in a landslide.

  5. Chiroptera says

    Of course, South Carolina has no anti-discrimination law that protects LGBT people from being fired….

    Maybe, but I would be surprised if South Carolina didn’t have some sort of laws that put some limits on what justifications can be used to fire certain public officials. I don’t know, though, whether the police chief is covered under such laws or whether this strange timing of reprimands and the phone call would be sufficient evidence to show termination without cause.

  6. alanb says

    The big news here for me is that there is an openly lesbian police chief in a small town in South Carolina that is evidently very popular. I might have to update my stereotypes a bit.

  7. steve84 says

    Unlike on might expect this wasn’t a smart move for him. There has been a lot of backlash.

  8. Callinectes says

    They continue to use that line “that ain’t the way the world works” when they can plainly see with their own eyes that that is literally how the world works and that it is working in that way right in front of them.

  9. Artor says

    Hmm… Maybe Moore should run for mayor. I suspect there may be an opening for that position soon. Wouldn’t that be poetic justice?

  10. caseloweraz says

    “I would much rather have someone who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children, because that ain’t the damn way that they’re supposed to be,” Bullard says on the call.

    What does it say about any parent (let alone a city mayor) that would prefer an alcoholic tending his children over a woman with 20 years as a well-respected police officer?

  11. says

    They key bit is that those reprimands are the first that the chief ever got in 20 years, and they all came in one day. Wow, it’s amazing how fast they turn bad, isn’t it?

  12. Abdul Alhazred says

    My verdict:

    Primarily political payback, with the bigotry as a way of making it fly.

  13. Abdul Alhazred says

    Hmm… Maybe Moore should run for mayor. I suspect there may be an opening for that position soon. Wouldn’t that be poetic justice?

    She could run on her record of rooting out corruption.

  14. abb3w says

    @5, Chiroptera

    Maybe, but I would be surprised if South Carolina didn’t have some sort of laws that put some limits on what justifications can be used to fire certain public officials.

    Poking around turns up an ambulance-chaser’s blog entry which notes that South Carolina courts have additionally held that a cause of action for wrongful termination or wrongful discharge exists where an employee’s termination violates a clear mandate of public policy. Our courts have applied the public policy exception to at-will employment to situations in which the employer requires the employee to violate a law or where the reason for the employee’s termination is itself a violation of criminal law. South Carolina Courts have also applied the public policy exception to instances where an employee’s termination resulted from his refusal to participate in a company’s unethical conduct involving unlawful kickbacks, instances where an employee is terminated for complaining about unpaid wages and instances where an employee reports and testifies about extremely unsafe working conditions.

    So, it would seem that being fired right after noting the mayor’s little goof might well violate the public policy exception; contrariwise, it seems almost certainly an instance where there would need to be a lawsuit.

    I think running for mayor has better prospects for revenge, but I don’t see that she needs to put all her eggs in one basket. Why not try both?

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    Moore was unceremoniously relieved of her duties earlier this week …

    Maybe if the mayor had conducted the proper ceremonies, with the marching bands and everything, this could have turned out better.

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