Firefighter Resigns After Saying He’d Save a Dog Before a Black Person

Tyler Roysdon (Facebook via DiversityInc)
Tyler Roysdon (Facebook via DiversityInc)

A volunteer firefighter in Ohio has resigned after racist statements he made on Facebook were exposed.

Tyler Roysdon, 20, was suspended without pay from the Franklin Township Fire Department on Sept. 12 for a post in which he said if given the choice between saving a dog or a Black man from a burning building, he would save the dog first because “one dog is more important than a million n**gers.”

Roysdon submitted his resignation Monday night, according to The Journal-News. Along with an indefinite suspension, he faced a disciplinary hearing by the Board of Trustees for his conduct, which was scheduled for Sept. 27.

“[Franklin Township] Fire Chief Steve Bishop immediately contacted the firefighter and directed the comments be removed,” Township Administrator Traci Stivers said in a statement last week.

Stivers said in an email to WHIO that she did not know how Bishop learned of Roysdon’s post, which has since been deleted. She also said she wasn’t aware of how long the post was online before the fire chief was informed of it.

As terminations require a vote by the trustees, Stivers said that Bishop took the most aggressive step he could take.

“Even if you take race out of it, it still would be wrong,” Trustees President Brian Morris told The Journal-News. “I’m disgusted in what he said. There is no reason for him to say that anytime, anywhere … That should never be said.

“I want people to realize this is only one man’s comment. We have a great group of men [firefighters] and disgusting comments from one individual does not represent the entire fire department.”

Franklin Township is a small, predominantly white town north of Cincinnati. Ironically, also last week, across the country in Chelan County, Wash., a county emergency management employee shared on the department’s official Facebook page an “All Lives Splatter” meme, which mimics “Black Lives Matter.” The image suggests one should run over protesters in the road.

A meme posted on the Chelan County Emergency Management page encouraging killing protesters receives backlash on social media.

The posting was just weeks after the vehicular murder of Heather Heyer took place at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. Roysdon’s racist sentiments reflect what Heyer was protesting against when she attended the rally.

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her,” Heyer’s mother Susan Bro said during a memorial service on Aug. 16.

As a volunteer firefighter, Roysdon was a part of a career field that has historically been majority white and male. His racist feelings toward Black people is what Kenneth Walker, the only Black firefighter with the Gratwick Hose Volunteer Fire Company in North Tonawanda, N.Y., had to endure.

Ken Walker and his family in the Buffalo, New York, area lost everything they owned in a fire set by their neighbor, a former firefighter, arrested for arson.

In August 2016, Walker received a racially charged and threatening letter. Two days later his apartment where he lived with his wife and two children was set on fire and destroyed. Police arrested Matthew Jurado, a white male, for the act of arson. He is a former firefighter who had undergone training with Walker and actually lived across the street.

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