CLEVELAND, Tennessee (WDEF) – Former Bradley County Deputy Robert Suits has issued a statement on the Facebook rant that cost him his job.
He took to social media late last Thursday night to vent his frustration over the Cleveland Confederate monument debate and the general state of affairs in the country.
But the next morning, he was called into the Sheriff’s office and resigned.
The office issued this statement from Sheriff Steve Lawson:
“The language exhibited on this former deputy’s Facebook was unacceptable and will not be tolerated by any of my officers or staff. Less than 12 hours passed from time the post was published to the time his resignation was tendered. Such behavior will not be
tolerated under my administration.”
Here is the full apology and explanation he released to the media today:
I am writing this letter because I would like to clarify some confusion about my position regarding the situation which has caused some controversy recently. Anything that I have said, choose to say now, or may say at any point in the future is my sole opinion and should in no way be misinterpreted as the opinion or position of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department.
First of all, the morning after the post, I was summoned to Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, had a brief conversation, and I chose from the two options given, to tender my resignation, effective immediately.
I, Robert Suits, would like to apologize for any language or references that may have deemed to be offensive in a recent social media post. The post contained explicit language and was not meant to be offensive to anyone at all. The post was made in an attempt to express my beliefs, frustrations, and thoughts on recent happenings in our country. While I acknowledge having the first amendment right of free speech, in hindsight, I should never have made this post, without having the opportunity to expound, and for that I am truly sorry. There were some extenuating circumstances involved, but nevertheless, I do take responsibility for my actions.
During recent times, our nation has experienced civil unrest, violence, disappointment in ourselves and in the actions of others, and we are still attempting to deal with the obvious destruction, both physically and mentally, of the America as we know it, and to put it frankly, it is overwhelming. I personally am tired of hearing about all of the destruction, as well as those behind it.
In my over 38 years of experience as a law enforcement officer, I have spent them serving as a patrol officer on the street handling almost every conceivable circumstance you can possibly imagine, with most of them happening on the worst day of someone’s life, and I have never allowed my personal thoughts or opinion to guide or interfere with the job of protecting and serving the public. I have done so without regard for a person’s guilt or innocence, race, religion, orientation, affiliations, opinions, gender, etc. I have done so because we are all human beings and this is the way I strive to live my personal life as well. As a human being, some of us sometimes allow our emotions to override our behavior and we might say something in the heat of the moment that perhaps would have been better left unsaid. Sometimes, the things we say are intentional and sometimes they are unintentional, but they still hurt or offend others.
Now to clear up a couple of things I said, I am actually sick of hearing about several groups/organizations in our country that are confused about how to express their opinions lawfully or express themselves under their constitutional rights, and make any objections known legally. Although I never referenced a recent horrific murder in our country, that took place in Minneapolis, I am personally outraged. This was and will forever remain unacceptable and should be handled with the fullest extent of the law. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Mr. Floyd.
In my opinion, the absolute destruction taking place in our country with looting, pillaging, burning businesses, vandalizing homes, destruction of personal property, unlawful removal or destruction of monuments, increasing tensions during a pandemic, and injuring or killing other people is in no way productive. This can only serve to not only erase our history (including mistakes) but increase the anxiety of normal citizens, and among us all. I believe, like millions of others probably, that the destruction must end. We are all Americans. We are all blessed to live in the greatest country in the world, where we have freedoms and opportunities that other people only dream of and imagine. I am proud to be an American. I want peace in our country and throughout the land, if possible.
Now, I would like to address the three statements that were in the post that seemed to be so upsetting to some people. First of all, I would like to apologize for the “America hating privileged punks” comment because it was hastily written and does not explain what I meant, and may have offended some people. Secondly, I used the word bullshit three different times and I was actually surprised at the response that was received over this two syllable word in comparison to all of the criminal and violent acts taking place on the streets of our cities in our country, every single day. It seems that some groups who may or may not have a legitimate argument or grievance, may be trying to protest peacefully or within reason and in a legal fashion, while others are invading their protests who may have malicious or nefarious reasons behind their presence. Thirdly and most importantly, I used the word “White Strike” in my post and I now understand that may have caused confusion or been misinterpreted to fit the agenda of others.
If you choose to take the time to conduct any research, rather than jumping to conclusions without investigation of the actual meaning, then you will find that the two words #whitestrike are a reference or synonym to the words #blueflu and it basically was only a reference to a planned absence of law enforcement officers on duty, such as the ones referred to in Atlanta using this same terminology very recently. (https://www.rt.com/usa/492285-white-strike-blue-flu-trend-twitter-atlanta-police/ ) This in no way was a reference to anything violent. It was simply a term used to refer to the officers of every color and ethnicity, who might plan to call in sick at work. In Atlanta, there seems to have been a knee jerk reaction without proper investigation, in response to a police involved shooting, and the aftermath of this incident has left the local police officers in a situation where they wonder if they might end up arrested, tried, condemned, accused, sentenced, etc. just for going in to work daily and doing the job that society requires of them.
These police officers are brothers, sons, uncles, dads, sisters, daughters, moms, aunts, etc. They are regular people too and belong to someone’s family. Yet, their future is uncertain every single day they put that uniform on and make the choice to go to work. I thank every single officer who now serves or has served in a just and upright manner to fulfill the obligations of what it means to pin on that badge and serve.
I encourage us all to not only do our research when in doubt about something, but to also take productive action ahead of time to make a difference. If something bothers us, we should all investigate ways to make it better or get involved. Perhaps our actions could actually make a difference to better the lives of other people, if done so in a positive manner.
While I regret the circumstances surrounding my departure, It has been a privilege to serve.
Robert Suits II