John M. Becker

SC Town Votes to Give Lesbian Police Chief Her Job Back

Filed By John M. Becker | June 25, 2014 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Crystal Moore, employment discrimination, police, small town, South Carolina

crystal-moore-sc-police-chief.jpgLast night, voters in the small town of Latta, South Carolina voted to strip many of Mayor Earl Bullard's powers and grant them to the city council instead. This will allow the council to reinstate Crystal Moore, the town's popular, distinguished, and openly lesbian former police chief, whom Bullard fired earlier this year in a move many say was motivated by anti-gay animus.

The Morning News reports:

Dozens of Latta residents danced and cheered in front of the town's community center Tuesday night as election officials announced a referendum to change the town's form of government to strong council was approved, 328-147. Though the results will not become official until the ballots are certified at 11 a.m. Friday, for many town residents, Tuesday's vote was an instant victory because it will allow town council to reinstate Crystal Moore as Latta's police chief.

Moore was abruptly fired in April by Mayor Earl Bullard after she refused to sign seven unexplained reprimands that he presented to her on the same day. "This is our town," a grinning Tammy Taylor said, between cheers and high-fives. "We got our town back. We got our chief back."

Despite repeated pleas from his fellow council members to reinstate Moore, Bullard has refused. It was Bullard's unwillingness to compromise that led council members to ask for the referendum, Councilwoman Lutherine Williams said... Latta has operated under strong mayor-weak council [government], which gave Bullard the authority to hire and fire at will. But not after Tuesday's vote, Williams said. In fact, she said the council's first order of business will be to rehire Moore.

For her part, Moore tells the Morning News that she's elated by the town's support, which has sustained her through this process.

"Words cannot describe how I feel," Moore said. "I am so excited. The town came out and spoke up for what was right, not just for me, but for the whole town. They've seen what's been going on for the six months he's been here as mayor. The council has really been trying hard to do what's right for the town so this is a blessing. Thank you to everyone who came and voted. It took us all. Now, I'm ready to go back to work."

Congratulations, Crystal, and kudos to the citizens of Latta for doing the right thing.

UPDATE: In a desperate bid to thwart the will of the town council, Mayor Hubbard announced this morning that he's hired a new police chief before the council's vote could be certified. Stay tuned.

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