Thomas Burke: Police Chief Resigns Over Racial Slur In Email

November 30, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

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.

Thomas Burke police chief

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?

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    Comments (6)

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    1. Larry Webb says:

      Very interesting ! But it ‘s true.

    2. tough says:

      As my mother use to tell me before beating my ass when I asked why I wasn’t allowed to do what the other kids were all doing. “Life isn’t fair, deal with it!”

      We can point to any number of reasons for this, but it wouldn’t really matter. So until society decides to grow beyond this double standard, we will continue with the double standards in which whites are unable to use the N-word (or other references) to or about people of dark complexion. It is likely the greatest evidence to there existing a form of racism against whites by the minority groups, but it was brought on by the inequalities of our forefathers… Thus the quote, “Sins of the father, visited upon the son.” is in this case very true.

    3. toughistoopid says:

      Sounds like “tough” is too bitter about those ass whoopings his mom used to give him and now he’s passing that bitterness on down.

    4. JIM says:

      This Sheriff sounded like he had something good going, but why would he utter such in an email and someone turned it into his downfall. that was dumb and idiotic. My question is why make himself a scorn? BTW i hear some say well you blacks call yourselves that word, well it is not the same thing and most of the time when another race says it, they mean it in a negative and derogatary manner, so that argument does not fly. I am black, and i don’t like even another black to call me that even in a jestive way and i will advise them to not do it again.

    5. Sherice says:

      This Sheriff is DUMB and offensive. There is simply no legitimate reason to refer to children or anyone else as a nigger. He would have held a position of power, influence and authority and should have known better, especially given the racial tensions over the last several years. He simply didn’t care. I’m not sure why anyone believes or feels that this is some sort of REAL double standard, given that this man is a middle aged adult male and baseless attempts by anyone to justify calling children niggers as a ‘so called double standard’ because some of them or some black adults refer to themselves in that way is absolutely asinine. Bottom line is, they’re children and the also refer themselves by their names and other appropriate terminology. This is a merely excuse to be free to let out his inner bigotry and have it accepted. He’s grown and should be setting a positive affirming example. The mayor of Sharon should be asked to step down by the towns people as well if she can’t understand why this man is unfit to be head of law enforcement. Just painfully moronic! Here’s the REAL interesting question, Why would a white person…. or any non minority person want to say the word nigger anyway? Now that’s the REAL question and not disguised as some of sort double standard or so called “reverse” racism as alluded to in the article and other commenters.

    6. brinda says:

      please excuse me but I am a black female and I do not except the N WORD coming from the lips of any one. Why would he make such a statement in a letter it only means one thing he has use it before, but never got caught and for any one who thinks it ok to use it then you have not respect for your self. If i walk up to a person of any race and call them the N word what do think there reactions are going to be, so for the person who say it no big deal its a lie. So get real people what goes on in the dark soon comes out in the light.

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