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DeKalb firefighter takes heat after 'Back the Blue' social media post, city officials condemn comments

DeKALB – City of DeKalb officials are condemning comments made on social media over the weekend by off-duty DeKalb firefighter Harley Siddall after he stated he would not provide service to a person based on their beliefs regarding policing and racism.

On a social media post Saturday which stated, “You cannot Back the Blue and Be Anti-Racist,” Siddall, on his personal Facebook page, replied, “Please don’t ever call for help and of course I hope you don’t need it.

Weather [sic] it’s for you, your husband, your kids anything,” Siddall continued. “Please never ask for the assistance of any leo [law enforcement officer] agency in the land.”

In a followup statement posted on his Facebook page, Siddall apologized for his comments and said he was attempting to “support our local law enforcement.

“I am deeply ashamed of an remorseful for the comments I made,” Siddall said. “What I had attempted became a very poorly worded attempt to support our local law enforcement officers during these trying times. What was stated was absolutely not a view or stance of the City of DeKalb, DeKalb Fire Department nor the DeKalb Police Department or any other agency. Anybody who knows me understands how much more professional and caring I am than the words conveyed that evening. As a result of those words that I did indeed post, I’ve cast a larger shadow over the first responders of the DeKalb Fire Department, the DeKalb Police Department and as a whole the entire City of DeKalb staff.”

In a statement released with screenshots of Siddall’s comments Tuesday around 12:30 p.m., City Manager Bill Nicklas said of the exchange that Siddall’s “passionate defence of police officers overflowed into language that was hurtful and misrepresented the inclusive and unselfish mission of the DeKalb Fire Department.”

Siddall met Monday night with DeKalb Fire Chief Jeff McMaster, Nicklas and representatives of the DeKalb firefighters union IAFF Local 1236.

“Neither the Fire administration nor the City Manager nor the DeKalb City Council will tolerate language that suggests any form of discrimination against any individual regardless of their political beliefs, race, ethnic or national origin, gender, age, or sexual orientation. The City of DeKalb is committed to building trust, forbearance, enduring respect, and mutual commitment to justice.”

In his second statement, Siddall said he began at the DeKalb Fire Department 17 years ago with the intention to help “all people.”

“I cannot begin to understand how much I have upset the community as a whole as well as disrupting the view of the first responders in this light, and I cannot possibly extend my apologies and remorse enough,” he said. “The words I shared did not emulate that stance or opinion, and for that I must again offer my deepest and sincerest apologies.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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