A white Pennsylvania volunteer fire chief has reportedly resigned after calling the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach a “no good n****r” over the black coach’s decision to skip the national anthem on Sunday.
Volunteer Fire Chief Paul Smith of the Muse Fire Department in Cecil Township confirmed his abrupt departure to the local Observer-Reporter on Tuesday, two days after lashing out on Facebook about coach Mike Tomlin’s decision to stay with his players in the locker room during the national anthem.
He told WPXI News that he was “frustrated and angry” over Tomlin’s decision, prompting the racist remark.
The majority of Tomlin’s team took part in the gameday demonstration, which followed President Donald Trump’s pronouncement that the National Football League owners should fire any player who refuses to stand during the anthem.
Athletes have been kneeling during the anthem or staying off the field while it’s played to protest social injustices, including racial divides and police brutality. Trump has accused those individuals of insulting the U.S. flag. After Trump’s comments, most NFL players have joined in shows of unity for free speech rights by taking a knee, staying off the field or linking arms with teammates and coaches during the national anthem.
Tomlin, speaking to CBS News of his team’s decision before Sunday’s game, said, “We’re not going to play politics.”
Smith apparently wasn’t having it.
“Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good N****rs. Yes I said it,” he reportedly posted on Facebook the day after the Steelers’ game.
At least one government official had advised Smith to resign over his actions, according to the Observer-Reporter, which covers Washington and Greene counties in Pennsylvania.
“He needs to resign, or I would hope the presidents of the fire company will take actions to make sure that he is no longer chief,” Cecil Township Supervisor Cindy Fisher told the newspaper earlier Tuesday.
A Facebook page for Cecil Township Volunteer Fire Company No. 3, which apparently was being confused with Smith’s Fire Company No. 2, also distanced itself from him with a statement that said it does not “condone or support the comments made” by Smith.
Reached by the Observer-Reporter on Facebook, Smith reportedly apologized, saying he wrote the message “in anger.”
“What I said was wrong and I truly am sorry,” he said.
Attempts to reach Smith and his fire company for comment Tuesday were not immediately successful.