Fired North Carolina Cop Explains That His Super Racist Comments Were Actually His Religious Beliefs
James "Brian" Gilmore, one of the officers fired from the Wilmington, North Carolina police force this June for making some absurdly racist statements about the Black Lives Matter protests, is claiming that the racist things he was recorded saying were not in fact racist, but rather an expression of his religious beliefs.
In a letter written to the Wilmington Civil Service Board, Gilmore explained that he believes he should not have been fired, because his comments were not motivated by racism, but rather by his personal religious beliefs about idolatry. His concern, he explains, was that people he did not know in videos he saw on the internet were violating the tenets of his religion by "worshiping" black people. The letter did not mention the statements from the other officers, which included such gems as "we are just going to go out and start slaughtering them (racial slurs)."
Below are the comments that got Gilmore canned, via Port City Daily:
Gilmore, who had parked beside [Piner's] patrol car, said the department was only concerned with "kneeling down with the black folks," according to a report summarizing the internal investigation in explicit detail. During a May 31 protest that resulted in multiple rounds of tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets fired almost entirely by deputies from the New Hanover and Brunswick Sheriff's offices, WPD officers were applauded for kneeling with protestors.
Gilmore then said he watched a video posted on social media showing white people bowing down on their knees and "worshipping blacks."
"How many times have I told you it's almost like they think they're their own god?" Gilmore asks Piner.
He then tells Piner about another video he had seen where a "fine-looking white girl and this punk little pretty boy bowing down and kissing their toes."
While Gilmore's comments were not as explicit as those of the other officers — which, again, did involve murder plans — the Department's internal affairs investigation deemed his tone and their content enough to warrant his dismissal.
In the letter, Gilmore claims these comments were not racist, which they very obviously were:
"I began to discuss a matter of which I hold strong religious beliefs (Christian), that being worship of the Lord," Gilmore wrote. "The Holy Bible teaches that no one should bow down before another human being or idol and worship them."
One issue with this particular defense is that if it were true — if he were actually correct in his assumptions and white liberals were actually worshiping Black people as Gods — this would be religious discrimination on his part, not on the part of those who fired him. As a police officer, he has no business expecting those he serves to follow all of the tenets of his religion. Thou shalt not kill? Sure! That's fine! It's very general and not specific to Christianity at all. In fact, if the police had done a little more of that, it is likely that these protests never would have happened in the first place.
But "Thou shalt have no other gods before me?" That's pretty specific to Jewish and Christian people. Other people are allowed to practice their own religions where they worship other Gods or human beings or no one at all. If his position is that it is fine for him to rail against people for violating that tenet, we would have to wonder how he would treat Hindus or Muslims or Buddhists on the job.
"I wasn't being hateful towards Black people, I was being hateful towards non-Christians" does not really make things much better.
My entire conversation was based upon personal beliefs that I expressed to another officer based upon my religious beliefs. I did not make any comments based upon racist ideology and my comments were directed towards the Black Lives Matter movement, which has cost officers their lives, threatened officers with death, threatened to kill officer's family members, to include their children. This movement involves members of all races and is not solely comprised of black members of society. The matters for which I commented were matters of public concern. The conversation, while on duty, was not made pursuant to my official duties, and my conversation was not directed towards any other employee of the WPD. Therefore, I believe my speech is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and my termination is without cause.
You know what commandment I really like? Thou shalt not lie. Perhaps James "Brian" Gilmore (I guess Brian is his nickname?) ought to think real long and hard about that one before he continues with this defense. Especially if he doesn't get nearly that worked up over people who do not belong to his religion coveting their neighbor's cattle.
Anyway! This is now your open thread! Have a lovely day!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse