Thomas Burke: Police Chief Resigns Over Racial Slur In Email
Thomas Burke, a police chief from Pennsylvania, assumed the N-word was funny, used it in a chain email, and now he has been forced to resign. Mr. Burke, who lost his post before he even started, was trying to raise money to buy books for children in the cities of Sharon and Farrell.
The Caucasian police chief of Farrell, Pennsylvania, Thomas Burke, sent out an email calling black children, ni**ers, and it made headlines and cost him his new job.
Burke, who was sworn in as Farrell’s new police chief on November 17, resigned on Thanksgiving Eve and therefore never started the job. Burke, who was set to take office on Tuesday, was dismissed for using the racial slur, ni**er, in an email, which he sent out to 40 people in April. The email was actually for a good cause – the law enforcer was asking for donations to help the youths in the cities of Sharon and Farrell. Burke, who was the police chief of Sharon until retiring in 2007, jokingly wrote:
“Good morning. Please click and review. Even a $1.00 will be greatly appreciated. Them Sharon ni**ers gotta learn how to read.”
Burke was requesting money to purchase books for a local parent-teacher organization. The sentence, “Them Sharon ni**ers gotta learn how to read,” did not sit well with some of the recipients of the electronic mail, which prompted them to leak it to the media.
On Monday, Burke issued a public apology, and the mayor of Farrell, Olive McKeithan, who is black, wanted to keep him. Burke told the more than 5,000 African-Americans living in the city he offended at a press conference:
“To everybody here, to everybody out there, my deepest — I cannot tell you, from the bottom of my heart, I’m truly sorry. I apologize deeply,”
McKeithan said at the time of the press conference:
“I have known and worked with him for many years and respect and admire his dedication to the community. Until you get to know a man’s character, you can’t judge him by one off-the-cuff remark, or else would we not have to judge all white people as equally guilty?”
However, after consulting with other city officials, she was forced to ask for Burke’s resignation. McKeithan later explained:
“I asked him if he would step down because I thought it would be best for the community. He said, ‘yes.'”
Stephanie Sheffield, a Farrell city councilwoman, who is black, said she is very troubled by the email and can not understand the mayor’s support for Burke. Sheffield shared:
“I just feel it was a negative response for our area here in Sharon and Farrell. I spoke to him this morning and I immediately said ‘dismissal’.”
Police Chief Thomas Burke’s story has stirred an interesting debate: If some of the black children he was attempting to raise funds for call themselves ni**ers, why can’t he do the same? Why is Burke being punished when he was trying to help his community?