Pennsylvania cop under fire for provocative pro-gun videos
The borough council of Gilberton, Pa.,on Wednesday voted 5-1 to suspend Chief Mark Kessler for 30 days without pay, claiming he misused property by taking police weapons without permission.
The council was referring to a series of YouTube videos that Kessler uploaded from his account. The provocative videos show Kessler cursing out public officials and firing semi-automatic machine guns that belong to the police department. The videos sparked controversy for the chief’s inflammatory attacks against Democrats, which he called “the most vile creatures in this country.”
“Kessler’s video was produced to threaten and intimidate,” Michael Morrill, the executive director of Keystone Progress, told The Morning Call, referencing a video produced in June. “People who are registered Democrats cannot expect to be treated fairly because Kessler doesn’t even want to call them people because that’s being too kind. He calls liberals ‘libtards’ and says the Founding Fathers would be shooting them if they were alive today.”
Kessler is a vocal gun control opponent, and leads a homegrown militia that he calls Chief Kessler’s Constitution Security Force. The group advocates for the nullification of national gun laws, and fiercely supports Second Amendment rights to carry firearms.
In a video uploaded in June, the Pennsylvania police chief condemns Secretary of State John Kerry’s endorsement of a United Nations weapons treaty. Dressed in military gear and armed with a semi-automatic weapon, he curses out the secretary of state, calling him a “piece of shit traitor.”
“Fuck all you libtards out there… yous take it in the ass,” he says. “…And fuck the UN. Who are they to decide what we, the American people, can own?”
Standing in the woods as he yells angrily at the camera, the police chief calls Kerry a “cocksucker” and proceeds to open fire for about five seconds.
“Come and get it!” he shouts.
Other videos produced by Kessler are equally provocative, and one shows the police chief visualizing Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as a shooting target. But Kessler refuses to apologize. He insists the videos draw attention to the deterioration of the right to free speech and the right to bear arms, and said he does not regret making them, the Associated Press reports.
Kessler wrote a response to the “unjust” suspension on his website, insisting that state officials “are conspiring behind closed doors for full termination” and arguing that “they needed to suspend [him] first to allow themselves time to look for or make up any reason to lie.”
A group of gun rights activists took to the streets of Schuylkill County, Pa.,on Wednesday, showing their support for Kessler by carrying flags and weapons while the council voted on its response to Kessler’s actions.
“Impeach Obama, Mark Kessler for President” and “Legalize the Constitution” read some of the signs in the crowd of gun advocates. An impromptu gun rights rally erupted after Kessler’s suspension.
But Kessler’s opponents also expressed their concerns on the day of the council meeting. Morrill delivered a petition bearing 20,000 signatures calling for Kessler’s firing, and some Gilberton residents spoke up against the police chief.
“He was way across the line,” Wade Greg Necker, who lives on the outskirts of the 700-resident borough, told Penn Live. “He’s a nut. I do not feel safe with him around at all.”