BEAUFORT — In a statement Wednesday, the town of Beaufort said an alleged Facebook post from an employee alluding for others arm themselves in the wake of a nearby peaceful protest does not reflect the views of the Beaufort Fire Department or the town.
In the alleged post, Beaufort Fire Department employee Ritchie Hunnings said demonstrators were “trying to run out in front of cars” and “everyone better lock and load tonight.”
In a conversation and statement to the News-Times, the town said the post does not reflect the views of the town or the department.
“The Town is aware of the social media post and it has been addressed,” Public Information Officer Rachel Johnson said. “The post in no way reflects the sentiments of the Town of Beaufort or the Fire Department.”
Officials said little about Mr. Hunnings, noting the incident was a personnel matter and “being handled internally,” according to Ms. Johnson.
The town has a social media policy for employees.
The News-Times reached out to Mr. Hunnings for comment.
The demonstrators referred to in the alleged post have gathered daily since Sunday in downtown Morehead City, protesting widespread police violence in the U.S. The gathering is one of hundreds of demonstrations across the country sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.
In a Thursday email, Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton declined to comment on the post, deferring to town staff.
“I will say that, on a daily basis, we strive to eliminate discrimination and treat everyone in Beaufort equally,” he wrote. “We have, by far, the most diverse Board of Commissioners in all of Carteret County and our Board is accountable for town vision, planning and operations.
“You can see equal treatment in the development of Randolph Johnson Park that serves all citizens. You can also see that equal treatment in our extensive road and sidewalk projects that extend across our community. And you can see it in the recognition of our rich minority history to include that fact that, during the Civil War, Beaufort was the second largest free slave community in North Carolina,” he continued.
“Beaufort is a proven ‘Gateway to Freedom’. We also recognize we are far from perfect and we have work to do.”
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.