FF on leave after confrontation with BLM protester

Video shows the protester lying on the ground as the firefighter uses a hose to wash chalk off the street around her

By Laura French

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. — A Tennessee volunteer firefighter was placed on leave after a confrontation with a Black Lives Matter protester on the Fourth of July. 

Video published by WJHL shows the Sullivan County firefighter, who was not publicly identified, using a hose to wash away a chalk message written on the street. The protester, Rachel Bush, is seen standing in front of him and trying to stop him, and later lying on the ground over the message as the firefighter continues to spray water on the street around her. 

The Sullivan County Volunteer Fire Department said in a statement that it is investigating the incident.

"The member involved is on leave and appropriate disciplinary actions are pending upon completion of this investigation," the statement reads. "It is not the Sullivan County Volunteer Fire Department's intent to silence or impede a person's right to peacefully protest." 

Bush told WJHL she had written messages in chalk including "Black Lives Matter" on the side of the road in the downtown area of Blountville during a peaceful protest. She said when she asked the firefighter to stop he said the messages were making people uncomfortable and he was asked to wash them away. 

Sullivan County Fire Chief Lance Bellamy told WJHL that the fire department had received a citizen request to remove the messages. 

Bush says she hopes the incident will open up the conversation about race in her community, but that she does not want the firefighter to be removed and plans to write a letter to the fire department asking that he be allowed to keep his volunteer position. 


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