Crystal Moore was Latta, North Carolina’s first female Chief of Police in Latta, South Carolina. She was also the town’s first openly gay police chief. And since she was suddenly fired last week, the town’s residents questioned whether her sexuality cost her the job.
Moore served the town of Latta for 20 years without a single incident. But Mayor Earl Bullard, who took office in December 2013, slapped Moore with seven reprimands in one day before firing her. The reprimands included allegations that Moore failed to report to a supervisor, used her office for revenge, failed to maintain order, and contact the news media, among others.
But many members of the tiny, conservative town aren’t buying it, particularly in light of the anti-gay sentiment expressed by Mayor Bullard.
Mayor Shares Anti-Gay Feelings
In a secretly recorded phone call, Bullard stated his feelings on the LGBTQ “lifestyle.” “I would much rather have…and I will say this to anybody’s face…somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children,” he said. “I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I’m not going to see them do it with two men neither. I’m not going to do it. Because that ain’t the way the world works. Now, all these people showering down and saying “Oh it’s a different lifestyle they can have it.” Ok, fine and dandy, but I don’t have to look at it and I don’t want my children around it.”
Many of Latta’s residents have rallied around Moore through demonstrations outside of the town hall and prayer vigils. Even the people Moore helped imprison have said they support her.
“We just had a big case with a firearms place broken into, and even the people we investigated came up and hung their necks and said, ‘You did your job. We respect you for that,’” Moore told the Huffington Post. “They’re saying, ‘I’m helping Ms. Crystal to keep her job and she’s the one who locked me up.’”
Members of the town council also voted to take action to go around Mayor Bullard to try and reinstate Moore. According to local news station WBTW, Mayor Bullard never gave Moore a warning—written or verbal—and instead gave Moore all seven reprimands in one day before firing her.
“We have codes, but this Mayor refuses to obey anything in that book he don’t want to,” Luterine Williams, a Latta Council member, told WBTW.
Moore says all she wants is to return to her position. “I have always worked. That’s all I want to do is get back to work, support myself and work for my community,” Moore said. “Here I am now, I have no income. I’ve never been in this predicament. One hundred percent of my life has been for my career. And here I am, struggling because one person does not like me personally. He snatched it away.”
Latta community members have set up an online fundraising site to help Moore with living expenses and potential legal costs as she fights for her job. South Carolina is one of 29 states where it is legal to fire someone for being gay.
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