‘I hope there are some white folks killed’: Memphis firefighter under investigation for racist Facebook post — but department won’t disclose firefighter’s race

News & Politics

A firefighter with the Memphis Fire Department in Tennessee is under investigation for a message targeting “white folks” that he posted to Facebook, but the department on Thursday would not disclose the firefighter’s race to TheBlaze.

What are the details?

WHBQ-TV reported that firefighter Steven W. Chillis’ Facebook post tags the 2022 movie “The Woman King,” which IMDB says is “inspired by true events that took place in The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

The message with Chillis’ post reads, “I hope there are some white folks killed,” the station added. TheBlaze’s Facebook search for Chillis’ account was unsuccessful Thursday.

The fire department “is conducting an internal investigation on the social media post made by Mr. Chillis,” public information officer, Lt. Hunter Smith, told TheBlaze in an emailed statement Thursday.

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Smith added that the department employed Chillis in March 2020 and that Chillis “remains on duty with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.”

A LinkedIn profile of Steven Chillis of the City of Memphis Fire Department includes a profile photo that would seem to indicate Chillis is black, but Smith told TheBlaze he couldn’t confirm that Chillis has a LinkedIn profile.

The educational experience on the LinkedIn profile — which was active Thursday afternoon — lines up with the educational experience on a resume for Steven W. Chillis of Memphis posted to SlideShare in September 2016.

Given that race is central to the controversy — particularly the race of the firefighter in question — TheBlaze asked Smith if he could confirm that Chillis is black, but Smith declined to do so. In fact, Smith told TheBlaze that the fire department “does not release any demographic information about employees, including age, race, date of birth, etc.”

Smith did provide TheBlaze with a copy of the department’s Social Media Policy, which affects all city employees. It prohibits “statements, comments, or images that disparage any race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin.” The policy also prohibits posting “remarks that would contribute to a hostile work environment (racial, sexual, religious, etc.).”

Anything else?

Sydney Gray, a reporter covering the story for WMC-TV, said in a video report that she spoke to Chillis on the phone Monday morning but said he wouldn’t comment on the matter except to say there was “a hearing” and he “would not elaborate on what happened or when it took place.”

Neither WMC’s story nor WHBQ’s story bring up Chillis’ race. In fact, WMC’s headline reads, “Memphis firefighter under investigation for hostile Facebook post.”

A spokesperson for the Memphis firefighters union told WHBQ the group is waiting for the investigation to be completed.

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