NORTH EAST — A North East Volunteer Fire Company firefighter who purportedly posted numerous messages containing racial slurs – predominantly directed at black people – on his personal social media account “is no longer a member” of the company, according to an updated statement released by the fire department’s board of directors.
The brief statement, which was issued to the Cecil Whig early Tuesday morning, reads, “As previously indicated, the North East Fire Company, Inc. has undertaken an investigation related to certain social media postings. The Fire Company has concluded its investigation, and as a result of its findings the individual in question is no longer a member of the North East Fire Company, Inc. The Fire Company looks forward to resuming its long-standing tradition of rendering aid and emergency services to all members of our community in their times of need.”
It is not clear from the statement if the firefighter – NEVFC officials still have not identified him – quit the company of his own volition or if the NEVFC removed him after conducting a due-process administrative hearing.
Elkton-based lawyer Cameron A. Brown, serving as the company’s attorney regarding this matter, could not be reached for additional information regarding the firefighter’s departure.
Late Friday night, the NEVFC board of directors posted a message on the company’s Facebook page informing the public that they had launched an investigation after learning about the firefighter’s purported social media posts. In that public statement, the NEVFC board of directors strongly denounced the content of those social media posts.
“As the investigation is on-going in nature, the Fire Company is unable to provide details of the matter at this time. That said, the social media postings that have come to light contain vile and repugnant commentary that in no way reflects the values of the North East Fire Company Inc. The Fire Company remains committed to its mission to provide aid and emergency services to any and all members of our community,” reads a portion of the statement made public on Friday night.
Over the weekend, Brown told the Cecil Whig that he was not at liberty to comment beyond the information contained in the statement, which, likewise with the one released on Tuesday morning, did not identify the firefighter who purportedly posted the messages that spurred the investigation.
Neither written statement released by the NEVFC board of directors provides background regarding the now-former firefighter’s length of affiliation with the company, his level of involvement with the company and his volunteer position with the company.
The social media posts came to light on Thursday, when Resist Programming, an anonymous Twitter account with a stated mission to expose racists, identified NEVFC volunteer firefighter Jerry Crutchfield as the author on social media. It also reposted several messages that had been gleaned from his social media account.
Attempts by the Cecil Whig to reach Crutchfield by phone for comment were unsuccessful. Online information indicates that Crutchfield’s Twitter page no longer exists.
In addition to using the N-word and other derogatory terms to identify black people, Crutchfield’s unearthed social media posts are marked by messages that include “’Black Lives Don’t Matter,” “I (heart icon) Being White,” and “The south will rise again.”
In one of his social media messages, Crutchfield opines, “The black lives matter movement is the poorest excuse for a group ever.”
Other posts found on Crutchfield’s social media account are more flagrant, including one in which he opines on the recent controversy involving Bubba Wallace, the only African-American, top-tier NASCAR driver.
Last month, a noose was found hanging in the Talladega Superspeedway garage assigned to Wallace for a Cup Series race, triggering an FBI investigation.
That federal investigation revealed that the looped rope resembling a noose actually was a pull-down rope for the garage door, that it had been there for several months and that the garages assigned to other NASCAR drivers also had pull-down ropes. FBI investigators concluded that the rope did not reflect a racist act.
“That [racial slur] race car driver bubba wallace is such a baby back [expletive] he should be hung out to dry by a noose,” reads the post that Resist Programming found on Crutchfield’s social media account and reposted, along with several others attributed to him.
The reposting of Crutchfield’s social media messages by the Resist Programming account sparked an online public outcry for his removal from the NEVFC.
In the initial statement released by the NEVFC board of directors, officials denounced the content of the posts.
“There is no place in our Company for the ugly and hateful rhetoric displayed. The Fire Company intends to undertake its investigation thoroughly and expeditiously, and will take appropriate action as the findings and conclusions of the investigation,” reads one section of that NEVFC statement.
That statement opened with, “The North East Fire Company Inc. (the “Fire Company”) is aware of the social media postings. The Fire Company is investigating the matter in accordance with the Company Bylaws, which govern the actions and internal processes of the Fire Company, including personnel matters such as this.”