Volunteer fire chief resigns over racist Facebook posts

Sargent: Posts were made to get reaction

OWENSBURG, Ind. - A volunteer fire chief is stepping down after racist rants on Facebook, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

Chief Sean Sargent of the Owensburg Jackson Township volunteer fire department submitted his resignation Tuesday to the Jackson Township trustee.

"We can’t tolerate this kind of thing," said Trustee Paul Trampke, referring to Sargent’s posts about supporting the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and other racist comments.

"I’m just gonna come on out and say it! I’m a full blown racist, I dare a dirty (racial expletive) to try and knock me out, and oh yeah! Support your local klan!!!" read one Facebook post from Sargent.

Another post from Sargent read “What do ya call a 1000 (racial expletive) at the bottom of the sea? A good (expletive) start!!”

EMT and concerned citizen Ashley Artis told RTV6 she was scheduled to start work this weekend at the Owensburg Jackson Township, but became concerned when she saw Sargent's comments.

"Instantly, I was in shock," Artis said. "I thought oh, he’s been hacked."

Artis said she messaged Sargent and learned the posts were coming from Sargent, not a hacker.

"This man is in a position of power, he has lives in his hands," Artis said. "If you're going to be in uniform in your profile picture, putting that up next to it -- you're in a position of power and little kids see that and that's wrong."  

Artis has a black son.

"That’s why it struck a nerve with me," Artis said.

Sargent refused to speak with RTV6 on camera, but said he submitted his resignation and was planning to leave the department in January anyway for a new job opportunity in Greenwood.

"I just did it to get a reaction," said Sargent in a phone interview with Kenney. "As for the KKK, I'm looking for some place where I can be proud to be a white American."

Sargent denied the Ku Klux Klan is a racist group, and said he is tired of people who take advantage of taxpayers.

"I feel I’m entitled to an opinion," Sargent said. "I have family members who are black. I’m not discriminating against anyone."

Sargent denied that he had treated citizens any different based on race while out on calls.

"It doesn’t matter what race you are," Sargent said. "I think this whole thing was turned into more than it really should have been."

Sargent deactivated his Facebook account within minutes of speaking with Kenney.

Artis said the fire department paid $850 for her EMT classes, however, she now intends to repay the money and find a different department to work for.

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6 | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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