A cop named Lt. William Kelly in Norfolk, Virginia decided last year to make a donation to the legal defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse. It wasn’t very much money ($25) but it’s the thought that counts, right? He included a nice, supportive note with the donation and apparently didn’t give it much more thought. Or at least he wasn’t thinking much about it until this week. It turns out that his supervisors learned of the donation and after a brief review, fired Kelly from the force. As we’ll see in a moment, however, the grounds for the termination seem vague at best. If this winds up sticking we’ll have yet another example of someone being canceled for showing any support for Rittenhouse. (NY Post)
A police officer in Virginia was fired after donating to a legal defense fund for Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, officials said Tuesday.
Norfolk police Lt. William Kelly anonymously gave $25 to a fundraiser for Rittenhouse in September, using his city email address, according to the Guardian.
The donation reportedly came with a comment: “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
In addition to the opening paragraph in the excerpt above, Kelly included some additional thoughts for Rittenhouse. He wrote, “Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”
Granted, that probably wasn’t the most flattering message that Kelly’s own “law enforcement leadership” has ever encountered, but it also wasn’t vulgar or in any way threatening. So the two pertinent questions here are how his supervisors found out about it and if they were justified in using this donation as a cause for termination.
The answer to the first question is fairly easy to suss out. Lt. Kelly made the donation using his departmental email address. Such government work accounts are always subject to review, so even though he made the donation anonymously, we can assume that a confirmation email and receipt were sent, leaving a digital paper trail of his generosity.
Taking the few moments it would have required to fill out the form and make the donation during working hours would be rather thin gruel to build a dismissal case on. But that’s not what the department was citing to justify the dismissal. Some government jobs forbid making political donations, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here either. What really got Kelly’s bosses up in arms was the message he sent along with the donation. Both the Norfolk City Manager and the Chief of Police said that Kelly had “violated city and departmental policies.”
“His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve,” Filer said in a statement Tuesday. “The City of Norfolk has a standard of behavior for all employees, and we will hold staff accountable.”
In his own statement, Police Chief Larry Boone said the force doesn’t “want perceptions of any individual officer to undermine the relations between the Norfolk Police Department and the community.”
Kelly is allowed to appeal the dismissal and he probably should. I’ll be curious to find out what specific departmental policy was violated here. (A request for comment from the office of the Chief of Police was not returned in time for publication.) They aren’t citing the donation itself, so that’s not it. The only reference being made by way of explanation is the “egregious comments.” But those comments were sent to a private crowdfunding operation. And they were sent anonymously. They weren’t even posted to social media, so there was no danger of other people seeing the comments, making the association to Kelly and perhaps misinterpreting that as a sign that he was speaking for the department.
In other words, Lt. William Kelly was fired for having an opinion. Again… where is it written in the Norfolk PD rules that officers can’t have opinions?
This isn’t the first of these incidents we’ve come across. Do you remember that paramedic in Utah who wound up being doxxed by a local news station for the crime of donating ten bucks to Rittenhouse? He may not have lost his job, but the press certainly made it easy for anyone to track him down. (In addition to his name they showed footage of his home.)
Rittenhouse has been deemed unfit for woke society and if you are associated with him, you’ve got a target on your back. Welcome to the new normal.