Sergeant demoted after Facebook comment

Published 12:57 pm Monday, August 24, 2020

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A Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office sergeant has been demoted following his involvement in a controversial Facebook post deemed racist and offensive by many area residents.

Tuesday, Aug. 11, Buckingham County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Fishburne shared a Facebook post that outraged several citizens. Fishburne’s post joked about selling his “white privilege card,” which he said he would be willing to trade for a “race card.”

Fishburne and the Buckingham County Sheriff’s Office received heavy backlash for the post, which was shared across social media.

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A Facebook profile under the name Larry Redskin Franklin seemed to find humor in the deputy’s joke, commenting laughing emojis under the original post. That’s when locals identified Franklin as being an employee of the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office.

A Monday afternoon, Aug. 20, press release from Prince Edward Sheriff L.A. “Tony” Epps said the sergeant had been demoted following the incident, and was being required to attend additional cultural diversity classes.

“This was a serious action which required serious reprimand,” Epps was quoted in the release.

“This was totally out of character of this deputy,” he continued. “I have never seen or heard anything from him to indicate any racial tendencies. He loves and gets along well with everyone he encounters. He and I want to apologize for his actions and hope this community will forgive him.”

Earlier in the week, Buckingham County Sheriff Bill Kidd released his own statement following Fishburne’s Facebook post, apologizing for the incident and expressing disappointment in Fishburne’s “derogatory remarks.”

Fishburne ultimately submitted a Letter to the Editor to The Herald. He publicly apologized for the post in the letter, and said he did not create but rather shared the post after seeing the statement elsewhere.

“I focused on the work ethic and just wasn’t paying attention to the post as a whole,” Fishburne wrote. “I’ve upset the community and my colleagues, and for that, I sincerely apologize. That’s just not who I am. I made a mistake.”

“As public servants, we simply cannot allow this type of behavior,” Epps said in the Monday release. “I have always worked hard to bring people together in our county. As sheriff, I will continue to build relationships and trust with all citizens of the county.”