Thomas Burke, a white incumbent police chief from Pennsylvania, lost his post before he even had one day on the job. His misdeed? Burke, in an ill-fated effort to be humorous, sent a racially charged email to about 40 of his former colleagues back in April. At the time, Burke was employed at a local steel mill, and was attempting to solicit support for a book drive. The way he did it however left much to be desired from a new police chief.
Erie News Now on Nov. 27 reported: “The City of Farrell has decided it will not retain Thomas Burke as its next police chief after a letter using a racial slur surfaced last week. The statement, provided to Erie Now Now Friday morning from city manager Michael Ceci, says just as many community leaders show their disapproval for Burke and his character as those who support him.”
The email, asking for donations to help the youths in the cities of Sharon and Farrell, attached some information on the book drive, and was captioned by Burke with:
Good morning. Please click and review. Even a $1.00 will be greatly appreciated. Them Sharon n****s gotta learn how to read.
Burke was sworn in as police chief on Nov. 17 and was due to start his job come January 1. Instead, he’s left looking for new employment.
“I want to apologize for my lack of judgment back in April 2015,” Burke said at a press conference last week. “It was a personal e-mail that went out, for that and for my usage of the word, I sincerely apologize.”
The mayor of Farrell, Olive McKeithan, who is African-American, said she initially did not agree with Thomas Burke being let go by the city board members.
“As the mayor of Farrell and as an African American, I stand behind Mr. Burke as police chief for the City of Farrell,” she said on Nov. 23, according to WKBN News. “Until you get to know a man’s character, you can’t judge him by one off-the-cuff remark, or else we would have to judge all white people as equally guilty. I have spoken with Mr. Burke and consider the matter as closed.”
Do you think Thomas Burke should have lost his job as chief of police over this email?