SC fire chief resigns after Facebook post about Black people, police

Former McDonald Green Fire Chief Francis Ghent was initially suspended for posting "Dear Police, stop responding to these black neighborhoods"


Andrew Dys
The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — A South Carolina fire chief who had been suspended for a racially insensitive Facebook post telling police to stop responding to Black neighborhoods has resigned, officials said.

Francis "Butch" Ghent quit as chief of the McDonald Green Volunteer Fire Department on Friday, said Steve Willis, Lancaster County administrator.

Ghent was suspended by fire department officials Wednesday. Ghent posted the statement April 22 on his personal Facebook page. It read: " Dear Police, stop responding to these black neighborhoods. They will eventually kill each other and the fake news won't have a story."

Ghent had been suspended by the fire department's leadership Wednesday pending a fire department investigation after apologizing for the post Tuesday.

Ghent submitted a written letter of resignation to the fire department and county fire officials Friday afternoon, Willis said.

The resignation stated Ghent apologized to the fire department's membership for the controversy that came from the Facebook post.

"I realize this has placed the department in a poor light and continues to cause mistrust and controversy in the community we all serve," the statement said.

Ghent asked for forgiveness and hoped that the community will begin to heal after he resigned as chief.

Ghent claimed in his initial apology Tuesday he was taking a jab at the news media.

Charles J. Addison, assistant chief at McDonald Green, was named acting chief.

McDonald Green is an all volunteer department, according to Lancaster County officials and the county Web site. The department has its own leadership and firefighters there are not county employees. County officials said they have no authority to discipline Ghent, although county leaders including Lancaster County Council issued a statement condemning the post as offensive.

Ghent's service at the department

Ghent had four decades with the fire service in Lancaster County, officials said. In 2020 he was chairman of the Lancaster County Fire Commission, a governing board for volunteer departments.

Volunteer firefighters in Lancaster County have South Carolina training certifications but are not governed by the state firefighters association, officials said. Individual departments handle personnel matters and decide matters of leadership and membership, county officials said.

It remains unclear whether the full membership of the McDonald Green department will meet to discuss Ghent's resignation and any potential further actions.

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(c)2021 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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