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Emotions were running high in the summer of 2016. People were sharing their feelings about various police departments and about protesters associated with Black Lives Matter. A larger than usual number of people working for public safety agencies were becoming SMACSS (Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome) victims. Some were fired or faced other disciplinary action for their public comments through Facebook and other social media forums.
One of those who ran into trouble was Columbia (SC) Fire Department Captain Jimmy Morris. Morris was fired for the two Facebook posts from his personal page that are posted above that were reprinted by thestate.com on July 11, 2016. Jimmy Morris has now filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired because he is white. The city still claims the firing was “reasonable and justified.”
City manager Teresa Wilson said Morris’ Facebook posts demonstrated “a lack of respect for the lives and safety of others.”
In his lawsuit, pending in federal court, Morris says he supports racial equality and the right of Black Lives Matter protesters peacefully to assemble. But their rally on a public roadway was not proper “because of safety concerns,” he contends.
The comment that he would run over protesters was “exaggerated,” Morris says in the lawsuit. The lawsuit also claims Morris’ speech on Facebook “was about matters of public concern and was not made pursuant to his job duties.”
Moreover, the lawsuit contends, while two white co-workers were fired because of similar Facebook posts, two African-American coworkers made the same sort of posts. One of the black co-workers was suspended, but the other was not disciplined at all, his lawsuit alleges.