North Charleston Police Sergeant Fired Over Confederate Flag Boxers Photo

The former sergeant is now appealing the decision.

Late last month, Sergeant Shannon Dildine of the North Charleston police department was fired after a controversial photo of him wearing nothing except a pair of Confederate flag boxers surfaced from his Facebook. It is unclear when the photo was originally posted.

Over the past month, the Confederate flag has made waves throughout the country because of what it represents and, specifically, its ties to white supremacist Dylann Roof, the man responsible for the Charleston massacre. Roof was frequently photographed with the flag prior to the shooting. This prompted the flag’s removal from South Carolina’s Capitol after Gov. Nikki Haley called on the state’s lawmakers to take action. It also resulted in many major retailers – including Walmart (one of DiversityInc’s Top 25 Noteworthy Companies) and Amazon – removing the flag and any related products from their stores.

In light of these events, according to Police Chief Eddie Driggers in his termination letter to Dildine, the Confederate flag is not a symbol that should be associated with any member of the North Charleston police department:

On Tuesday … the City learned that you posted on Facebook a photograph in which you were wearing only a pair of boxer shorts emblazoned with the image of the Confederate flag … Your posting in this manner led to you being publicly identified as a North Charleston Police officer and associated both you and the Department with an image that symbolizes hate and oppression to a significant portion of the citizens we are sworn to serve.

Dildine, who has been on the force since 1996, is now appealing his termination. His attorney, Edward Phipps, sent a letter requesting the appeal to Chief Driggers, saying that Dildine’s photo did not violate any policies and he was “terminated without cause.”

“It is my understanding that Mr. Dildine has an excellent record and has been an outstanding officer,” he said.

In his nearly 20 years on the force, there have been three complaints filed against Dildine, and race did not play a factor in any of them. However, it is future arrests that could very well be a cause for concern “since defense counsel can reasonably be expected to use the photograph to call into question … your motivation in making the arrest,” the termination letter says.

Further, Chief Driggers states that whatever Dildine’s personal beliefs about the flags may be have nothing to do with the incident:

… some say the flag emblem may have different meanings to different people … your personal beliefs are irrelevant to the City’s decision to terminate your employment. In light of current events posting an inflammatory photograph in a way that permitted it to become widely distributed shows a lack of reason or judgment that is unacceptable.

According to Chief Driggers, the photo tarnishes Dildine’s “ability to improve trust and instill confidence when working with our citizens.” This is especially relevant in a time when community and police rapport is so crucial.

The North Charleston police department also found itself under fire this past April after the murder of Walter Scott at the hands of former officer Michael Slager. Chief Driggers also acted quickly in this case: after video footage emerged showing the incident, he fired Slager, calling it “a tragic day for many.”

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  • So the next time a black person posts a picture in a black panther shirt, they can be fire, right?

    • Let’s wait for more people to be killed in Charleston, before we take any action !!!!!!!!

    • I work in a very public company with a code of conduct that all employees must understan and abide by, while at work or not. When you work in a public service job, it is important that you maintain the proper image of being unbiased, and fair. I am not sure that this man deserved to be fired or not, but definately reprimanded. We all know that public figures are under more scutiny. I can’t understand why anyone, let alone a police officer would want to pose for a photo wearing the Confederate flag. It is offensive.

      • It’s “in-your-face” offensive, which makes it doubly alarming considering this man had a badge and a gun. The lack of sensitivity and common courtesy extended to the citizens who this man was paid to protect and serve is stunning. I understand that we’re all human, and we all have our biases, but this is beyond any expectation of decent behavior.

        On a separate note, I don’t see how it’s honoring a flag to have it covering your buttocks. I cringe every time I see an American flag bathing suit.

    • How many times have you seen a black panther anything really? As for them being fire as you put it, any company you work for has a code of ethics and if you break that code you can kiss your behind bye bye.

    • Nope….but if he is a police officer and wears just black panther boxers when the entire country is focused on the image the black panthers represent…..yep! I would certainly hope so. Someone that ignorant and unable to make an educated decision is not someone I want protecting me!

    • The original Black Panther Party (BPP) was not a hate group. The tone and stance was one of revolution. Please see below. They did have a plan to uplift and empower oppressed people, primarily Blacks.

      written by C N Trueman
      The Black Panthers

      The Black Panthers were formed in California in 1966 and they played a short but important part in the civil rights movement. The Black Panthers believed that the non-violent campaign ofMartin Luther King had failed and any promised changes to their lifestyle via the ‘traditional’ civil rights movement, would take too long to be implemented or simply not introduced.

      The language of the Black Panthers was violent as was their public stance. The two founders of the Black Panther Party were Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale. They preached for a “revolutionary war” but though they considered themselves an African-American party, they were willing to speak out for all those who were oppressed from whatever minority group. They were willing to use violence to get what they wanted.

      The Black Panther Party (BPP) had four desires : equality in education, housing, employment and civil rights. It had a 10 Point Plan to get its desired goals.

      The ten points of the party platform were:

      1) “Freedom; the power to determine the destiny of the Black and oppressed communities.
      2) Full Employment; give every person employment or guaranteed income.

      3) End to robbery of Black communities; the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules as promised to ex-slaves during the reconstruction period following the emancipation of slavery.

      4) Decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings; the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people can build.

      5) Education for the people; that teaches the true history of Blacks and their role in present day society.

      6) Free health care; health facilities which will develop preventive medical programs.

      7) End to police brutality and murder of Black people and other people of color and oppressed people.

      8) End to all wars of aggression; the various conflicts which exist stem directly from the United States ruling circle.

      9) Freedom for all political prisoners; trials by juries that represent our peers.

      10) Land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace and community control of modern industry.”

    • Really? Ever hear of the saying apples to oranges? Your comment fits snuggly into that category.

  • Okay, we’re waiting for the rest of the story, date posted, text accompanying photo that’s defiant of taking the flag down, racist comments — some other measurable behavior? A government entity flying a flag that was raised in defiance of segregation, and a police officer wearing his Wal-Mart drawers are different. There has to be behavior coupled with this (comments he’s made to fellow officers, harassing people of color on and off the force.)

    It is a warning to us, though, of how we present ourselves in public media can impact employment, particularly those with positions of public trust. I recently talked to some young African Americans who said they’d been asked on more than one occasion in an interview to provide their social media contact information. One refused and didn’t get the job, of course. The other took down her Facebook page, and said forget Twitter.

  • Forget firing him for the shorts; FIRE HIM FOR THAT BODY!! Why isn’t physical fitness a prerequisite for officers across the country? I honestly believe most shoot because they can’t (physically) keep up and/or are often overpowered due to absent vigor. Apologies for the unrelated rant but this really bothers me :( Great day to all!

  • It will be interesting to see this play out.

    If he was fired just for the boxers, that is a pretty slippery slope.

    My bet: If it’s just the boxers (no racist comments or slurs in his background) he gets his job back with back pay.

      • Great.

        If I lose, I’ll by you a Rush Limbaugh Premium 24/7 membership. :-)

        Seriously though, firing a cop for wearing underwear with a flag that has flown – until very recently – on gov’t property??? It just doesn’t seem reasonable. If that’s all he did to get in trouble, I think he’ll get his job back.

        And by the way, I have no love for the Confederate Battle Flag. I’ve never considered flying it, but even if I had considered it, I would refrain simply because it would offend people that I care about.

        But if you can’t have a 100% legal symbol on your underwear – even if it fell out of favor – then what’s the next legal symbol that you might get fired for displaying? My fear about that is that depending on who’s in power you could get fired for being pro-anything or anti-anything.

        EXAMPLE: I’m sure there are people who are so Pro-abortion that they’d want to fire somebody for having pro-life underwear. And I’m equally sure that there are people who are so Pro-life that they’d want to fire somebody for having Pro-abortion underwear. When the “other side” takes over, you’d better hope they don’t do random underwear checks.

        Remember: It’s only the offensive free speech that needs to be protected.

    • @ Dan – why is it a slippery slope? That flag has a clearly defined past, present, and likely future. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. People who become aware of the picture will assume (correctly or not) that this guy will not objectively handle situations involving minorities. He essentially self-neutered himself and will likely never be considered objective again in his job. He would have always been considered suspect in his decision making. No slope here Dan, slippery or otherwise.

  • I would say he got fired for the attitude behind putting on confederate drawers and posting it on-line. The entire image is divisive and sends the wrong message to the public he swore to protect and serve.. Remember he’s there to protect and serve everyone. By posting this imagine, he was sending a message. The police chief doesn’t want someone sending such a message out to the public by someone who is supposed to work with it. Pretty simple really, especially when we all know our employers have codes of conduct of various levels inside and outside the job. He was bold. He was brash and he paid for it. He has a union so I’m not crying for him.

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