Pennsylvania police chief under fire after posting pro-gun YouTube rants
The chief of police in a small Pennsylvania town is coming under fire for a handful of strongly-worded diatribes he’s uploaded to the Internet — so much so that his pro-gun YouTube rants might get him removed from the job.
Gilberton Borough, PA Police Chief Mark Kessler is opposed to gun control and isn’t too reserved about making that clear. In addition to being the top cop in the small town of around 900, he leads a homegrown militia called Chief Kessler's Constitution Security Force, initiated the local nullification of national gun laws and regularly weighs in on Second Amendment issues using an array of active social media accounts. Some residents of Gilberton say his online activities are simply over the top, however, and are questioning whether he should stay chief of police.
"Fuck all you libtards out there ... yous take it in the ass," Kessler says in one video uploaded last month to YouTube. "I don't give a fuck what you say, so you can all go fuck yourselves. Period."
“They’re at it again. They just don’t know when to quit,” he announces in another clip as he reads a news article to the camera about Secretary of State John Kerry’s endorsement of a United Nations weapons treaty.
“Secretary of State John Kerry, that piece of shit traitor. Who is he to decide what we can and can’t own? And fuck the UN. Who are they to decide what we, the American people, can own?” Kessler asks.
Then, as he stands in the wood screaming at the camera, Kessler calls Kerry a “cocksucker,” rips up the article and opens fire using an automatic weapon for around five seconds.
The video has received over 9,000 views, and a not-quite-sincere “I’m sorry for hurting feelings” follow-up clip — complete with more ammunition and automatic weapons — managed to garner more than 40,000 views in only a few days online.
"I know a lot of people were offended by this video. I find the language myself offensive," Gilberton Mayor Mary Lou Hennon told WFMZ-TV News.
Eric Boxter, a councilman for the borough, told the network he found the videos “over the top” and “unacceptable.”
That sentiment is even shared by some fellow members of law enforcement, including Dan Duffy, the former chief of police for the nearby city of Scranton, PA.
“This is exactly what a law enforcement officer should not be doing out there publicly, especially identifying himself as a law enforcement officer,” Duffy told The Morning Call. “It's an embarrassment to us."
Kessler says others shouldn’t worry about it, though, having told WFMZ, "I wasn't in uniform. So I was only representing myself.”
Now as the video footage begins to go viral, discussions have erupted about removing Kessler from his role as Gilberton police chief — or perhaps just from the local school board that he sits on in the town of North Schuylkill. So far Mayor Hennon doesn’t want to move towards taking action though, saying in a statement that “It would be terribly inappropriate to comment upon or restrict what our employees do in their free time.”
"As you may already know, the Borough of Gilberton supports the US Constitution, as well as the Pennsylvania Constitution, and therefore has made no law which would impede its employees' First Amendment rights," Mayor Hennon said in a press release. “Anyone asking the borough to take action against the chief, when he has committed no illegal act, no violation of policy and no misuse of borough time, is asking that we establish an official political view of the borough and impose it upon one or more of our employees, which would obviously be unconstitutional. Each member of council, each employee and each citizen is not only entitled to their own political opinions but also the right to express them. We will not take action to quash free speech, whether or not each member of council or any member of council agrees with it."
Should the city move to make a legal case out of Kessler’s First Amendment rights, they might be opening a can of worms that would warrant assistance from the very police department he oversees. On Facebook, Kessler warns that he will lead “the next American revolution” if any action is taken to strip him of his Second Amendment-protected right to bear arms: a constitutional privilege praised perhaps even more by Kessler than the freedom of speech. Earlier this year, Kessler drafted a legislation called the Second Amendment Preservation Resolution that was adopted by the Gilberton council in which it’s declared that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves or that of a free state shall not be questioned.”
“If they want to fire the first shot let it begin right here in Schuylkill county,” Kessler wrote on his Facebook page this week. “I changed the course of history , one person pushed back against a tyrannical anti constitution government, it's time we show these tyrants we will not stand for any more violations on our constitution or our freedoms.”
Meanwhile, Kessler says the arguments erupting over his recent YouTube posts aren’t anything for others to be concerned about
“Some people are just trying to make a mountain out of a molehill,” he told the Standard-Speaker newspaper.