Deputy’s Facebook post questioned

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Many area residents expressed outrage and disappointment this week in response to a social media post made by a Buckingham County sheriff’s deputy.

A screenshot of the post, deemed racist and unprofessional by several citizens, began circulating online last week.

The Facebook (FB) status appeared to have been written by Deputy Chris Fishburne of the Buckingham County Sheriff’s Office. In the post, Fishburne joked about selling his “white privilege card” which he implied had been useless for all of his life.

Email newsletter signup

“No welfare checks, no inheritance, no free college, no free food, no free housing,” Fishburne wrote.

He continued the post by stating he may be willing to trade for a “race card.”

“Those seem to be way more useful and more widely accepted,” he continued.

Prince Edward County resident Kiera Scruggs said she initially came across the post from a friend on Facebook she and Fishburne have in common. She said she was immediately outraged by the post and decided to share it in order to spread awareness of the inappropriate comments made by a local officer of the law.

“I understand we all like to joke, but this is nothing to joke about,” she said Monday. “Especially when it deals with racial profiling and stereotyping people of color, or anyone for that matter.”

Scruggs said as a young, biracial woman who grew up in the area, it scares her to imagine an officer could look at her and think any of what Fishburne said in his social media post based solely off the color of her skin.

According to Scruggs, earlier last week a fake Facebook page was created in order to write a comment directed at her reaction over the post, telling her to “keep on picking that democratic plantation cotton.”

She said she was able to laugh the comment off. “In this community we have no room for hate, stereotypical comments, and prejudice-thinking law enforcement officers or people,” she said. “Love, compassion and unity will always win.”

Local resident Gayle Jones-Foster said she also stumbled upon Fishburne’s post on her Facebook timeline. Her reaction was a mixture of shock, offense and a feeling of needing to address the issue.

“Too long have we sat back and let statements like these from people in uniform with their ancient backwoods opinions be expressed and we as a ‘people’ tuck our heads and not address them because we don’t want to ruffle any feathers, or we want to be politically correct,” she said Friday.

“Law enforcement and/or public servants may have their own personal opinions about anything, but when you represent all people and your salary is paid by all people, your opinions are just that, yours, and are not necessarily reflective of the people you serve, therefore they should not interfere with your duties as said servant. Those comments can clearly cloud the judgement of the person that made them, and for the people that are to be protected, it can pose trust issues and division between the department and the citizens.”

Buckingham County Sheriff Bill Kidd responded to inquiries regarding the Facebook post Friday afternoon.

“On the evening of August 11, 2020, I was informed of an inappropriate social media post published by one of my employees,” Kidd wrote. “Upon reading the post, I immediately spoke with the employee expressing my discontent and the posting was removed. By that time, unfortunately, irreversible damage had been done.

“Since taking office, I’ve worked very hard to establish and maintain good relations with all segments of our population in Buckingham as well as surrounding areas. It is disheartening to have a setback like this from one inappropriate comment. Although I am not at liberty to discuss employee discipline matters, I can assure you that these derogatory remarks do not represent myself or the views of my office. Bias of any kind, cannot and will not be tolerated. If such acts are brought to my attention again, repercussion and swift action will occur. I sincerely wish to apologize to all for this unfortunate incident.”

Members of the public also expressed discontent regarding a commenter under the name of Larry Redskin Franklin who found humor in Fishburne’s original Facebook post and posted laughing emojis. Several residents identified Franklin as a Prince Edward County Sheriff’s deputy, which he lists himself as under his social media profile. Prince Edward County Sheriff Tony Epps did not respond to an email asking for confirmation of the commenter’s possible employment with the county.