Of all the ways to start a fundraising email for a book drive, the way Farrell, Pennsylvania police chief, Thomas Burke chose ranks among the worst. The newly sworn in police chief gave an apology on Monday after the revelation of a fundraising email he sent referring to people in the town of Sharon as “n*gg*rs”.
. . . [L]earn how to read
According to WICU, Farrell, Pennsylvania police chief Thomas Burke — sworn in last Monday — was forced to make an apology this Monday after he was caught using a racial invective during a book drive fundraiser last January.
The email — which was sent to about a dozen friends and colleagues while Burke was working in security for a local steel mill — begins innocently enough, with “good morning,” and it keeps up the typical, fundraiser pitch right to the end, when it hits a brick wall:
Please click and review. Even $1.00 will be greatly appreciated. Them [Town of] Sharon n****s gotta learn how to read.
It’s the sort of thing that makes you do a doubletake. I get the sense Burke was aiming for some sort of humor, but it fell flatter than deflated souffle. This is why self-censorship is a good thing; a filter ensures people can merely suspect you’re a racist asshole, not have evidence to prove it.
Burke is trying to make amends, though; shortly after the letter was made public, he showed up at the home of Farrell Councilwoman Stephanie Sheffield with a written apology:
I immediately said dismissal. He came and knocked on my door this morning with an apology letter, and how he is very familiar with our community and our area with some of the issues that we have going on here.
Burke apparently tried to justify it by saying he “does use the N-word very often,” as “that’s just the way that it is here.” To her credit, Sheffield isn’t buying the excuse, saying, “He should not stand in that position if he’s going to use the N-word.”
Burke does have one unusual ally, though: Farrell Mayor Oliver McKeithan, an African-American man who stood up for Burke’s character in the wake of Burke’s self-inflicted character assassination.
“Until you get to know a man’s character, you can’t judge him by one off-the-cuff remark, or else we would have to judge all white people as equally guilty,” McKeithan said, while speaking to WKBN. “I have spoken with Mr. Burke and consider the matter as closed.”
Mayor McKeithan is sadly correct; I’ve been around enough white people in my life to know “n*gger” is and probably always will be part of their vocabulary. It goes back to “mental filters” and their nonexistence, and how especially aggrieved and victimized white people are capable of acting when you call them out on it.
Watch the video below:
Feature image via Erie News Now