A South Carolina sheriff used a county Facebook page to condemn kneeling during the national anthem as a protest. Sheriff Kevin Tolson expressed his personal views on the matter in the statement.
“I will bow (or kneel) for one entity and one entity only — my God,” Tolson wrote. The post was published on the York County Sheriff Office’s Facebook page.
A local councilman criticized the South Carolina sheriff for his post.
William Roddey, a York County councilman, criticized the sheriff’s post. He also condemned the fact that the sheriff used the county’s official Facebook page for personal views.
“You don’t get to tell me how to protest,” Roddey told NBC. “As a sheriff’s deputy, you would think he would err on the side of law and order and not put those statements out on the official sheriff’s department page. It’s highly inappropriate.”
Roddey, who is black, also commented on the post. He wrote that he wished people “would stop trying to change the narrative and realize this is an issue in this country.”
“I thought we established that protesting and kneeling was not about the flag but about social injustice? Peaceful protest is protected under the stars and stripes of the flag!” Roddey wrote in his comment.
The councilman said he believes Tolson’s post will cause “rifts” in the community and sheriff’s department as well. He questioned the legality of Tolson using an official channel to express his viewpoints. Roddey also expressed concern that people might view Tolson’s personal viewpoint as those of the county as a whole.
The councilman said he plans to take his grievances to the state attorney general.
“Had it been his personal page — and we all have those — he is perfectly within his rights to post that,” Roddey said. “But when you are using any portion of the county’s operating system to reflect your personal views as the sheriff, I think that gets in a real gray area.”
The sheriff defended his social media rights in a subsequent statement.
The York County Sheriff Office’s subsequently made another statement on their Facebook page.
In the statement, Tolson defended his right as an elected to official to use the social media page. According to the post, the sheriff’s position is “not bound by the policies of York County government regarding the use of social media.”
“Sheriff Tolson understands that not everyone agrees with his opinions about this issue,” the statement said. “The ability to listen to and respect a different opinion is one of the founding principles of our country and Sheriff Tolson hopes speaking freely will help to continue beneficial conversation and ultimately bring peace and unity to our society.”
“Any statements he makes are his own,” the statement continued.