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A former Howard County (MD) Department of Fire and Rescue Services battalion chief, Kevin Buker, is suing to get his job back. Buker’s lawyer, Edward Robson, contends that Buker’s First Amendment rights were violated when Buker was fired in March after posting comments to his personal Facebook page while on duty January 20th, a month after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Here are excerpts from the article by Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun:
Edward S. Robson, Buker’s lead lawyer, said the county made it “very clear” in his termination notice that “the reason they terminated him was because of the substance of his comments on Facebook,” not because he was spending time on social media while on duty.
Howard County Solicitor Margaret Ann Nolan said in an email that “the employment action taken did not violate the law; the specific arguments in support of that defense will be set out in our written response filed in court.”
Using his personal Facebook page that did not identify him as a member of the county fire department, the court document says Buker posted: “My aide had an outstanding idea. … Let’s kill someone with a liberal … then maybe we can get them outlawed too! Think of the satisfaction of beating a liberal with another liberal. … Its almost poetic.”
One of Buker’s Facebook friends, Mark Grutzmacher, responded online, saying, “But … was it an [assault] liberal’? Gotta pick a fat one, those are the ‘high capacity’ ones. Oh pick a black one, those are more ‘scary.’ Sorry, had to perfect on a cool idea!”
Buker “liked” Grutzmacher’s comment, adding, “Too cool, Mark Grutzmacher.”