Crystal Moore, who claims she was fired because she's a lesbian, has received an outpouring of support from the South Carolina town where she served as police chief.
Latta Mayor Earl Bullard fired Moore on Tuesday after issuing the 20-year-veteran 7 reprimands.
But the community and members of the City Council have rushed to Moore's defense.
Counselor Jared Taylor said he made a recording of Bullard in which the mayor said he's opposed to gay marriage, does not want his child exposed to such relationships and called gays worse than drunks.
“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,” Bullard said.
“Because that ain't the damn way it's supposed to be,” he continued. “You know, you got people out there – I'm telling you, buddy – I don't agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed. And I don't say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around.”
Bullard refused to discuss why he acted but asserted his authority.
“I cannot go into personnel matters in a public forum,” Bullard told Morning News. “The mayor has all the power to fire or suspend.”
Taylor disagreed, saying that hiring and firing decisions are “subject to personnel rules adopted by the town council.”
“Our personnel rules say hiring and firing is subject to council approval,” Taylor said.
Taylor said Moore was fired without warning.
“She was called into the mayor's office and asked to sign seven reprimands,” Taylor said. “She told the mayor she wanted to confer with her attorney before she signed anything. And basically, she was told she had to sign the reprimands right then or she was fired. She still wouldn't sign and from what I understand, he fired her on the spot.”
“He threw all this on her in one day. Most of the reprimands were for petty stuff, and at least five of them, I can prove wrong,” he added.
More than 100 people gathered outside town hall on Wednesday demanding Moore be re-instated.
“Crystal has worked for this town for over 20 years,” Taylor said. “People in Latta love Crystal, and people have really embraced Crystal.”
At a City Council meeting held Thursday, members voted 6-1 in favor of an initiative to strip the mayor's office of some its powers. A public vote cannot take place for at least 60 days.
After the vote, Moore told WBTV-TV: “I can't believe that we still have no equal rights. That's the biggest issue. I've been harassed, intimidated. This is the first time it's been this public.”