NBC10.com - George Spencer
The police chief of the tiny borough of Gilberton in Schuylkill County has been suspended for 30 days after a profane anti-government and pro-gun rant surfaced on YouTube. NBC10's George Spencer takes us to Gilberton Borough where people drove in from far and wide for a fiery council meeting.
The lawyer for a police chief who posted a profanity-laden video online says he's reviewing the legality of his client's 30-day unpaid suspension for using borough weapons and ammunition without prior approval.
Joseph Nahas said Thursday that Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler believes he did have permission to use the equipment he was shown firing.
Nahas says he and Kessler haven't talked about litigation, but points out Kessler has an employment contract and state law gives him certain protections as a chief of police.
Nahas says Kessler is worried the borough council that suspended him on Wednesday night may move to terminate him before he's scheduled to return to the job.
The videos show Kessler using strong language while firing his weapons and criticizing the government. Kessler says he made the videos to draw attention to the erosion of the constitutional rights of free speech and to bear arms.
Gilberton Mayor Mary Lou Hannon says she found the police chief's language offensive.
“Coming from a small Christian community, the vulgarity and the violence was like an R-rated movie,” she said.
Kessler says he won't apologize for making the videos and doesn't regret having done so. He believes his videos are simply an example of free speech.
“Free speech,” he said. “Free expression and my strong belief in the second amendment.”
The Borough Council also passed new restrictions on the personal use of borough property, intended to prevent a situation similar to Kessler’s from ever happening again.
John Zangaro of Ashland disagreed with the council’s decision.
“He’s a professional yet colorful character that can go ahead and be a loud voice for those who want to be heard on our second amendment rights,” Zangaro said.
Kessler says he plans on returning to his job after serving his suspension. He also says he won’t rule out the possibility of making more videos in the future.