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Last updated on Wednesday, December 11, 2013
(OWENSBURG) - The Owensburg Fire Department chief resigned Tuesday after being confronted about Facebook post in which he claimed he had joined the Ku Klux Klan.
The Herald Times reports, 31-year-old Sean Sargent had been a member of the rural Greene County volunteer fire department since he was 15. He has been the chief for about a year.
Sargent says the Facebook posts are being misinterpreted.
He says the derogatory post about reference of color were not intended to be against any particular race, but were directed toward lazy people, who don't want to work, have multiple children and then live off welfare.
"Everyone should be a productive member of society," he added. "I have an issue with anyone who is being lazy or taking advantage of the system."
Sargent says he should not have "lashed out," but he is not a racist.
Ashley Artis, who is an emergency medical technician for the fire department and who saw the post, made a complaint to the Greene County Sheriff's Department.
While police say no crime was committed, Artis is worried about the "hateful" posts.
The fire department paid the $1,000 for Artis' training, and in exchange she agreed to work part time for the department for a year. Her first shift is Saturday.
But now she is not so sure she wants to work for Sargent.
When Artis saw the post she thought Sargent's Facebook page had been hacked. When she questioned him about the post he allegedly told her it was his right of freedom of speech he was just voicing his opinions.
Then Artis, who has a biracial family, told him she felt threatened by the posts.
He wrote back that he was sorry, but it was ok to be black and proud and gay and proud, but he can't be white and proud.
Sargent denied being a Klan member, despite a now-deleted Facebook post attached to a KKK ad with a note from him saying, "Join here and support your local Klan!! I did!!"
Sargent admitted researching the Klan and being interested in the organization's promotion of his heritage and the power of the white race.
"The Klan is not about threatening people," he said. "I opened their website and started looking into the Klan, an organization you can join to be proud of your white heritage."
Jackson Township Trustee Paul Trampke oversees the Owensburg Fire Department was shocked about the post and confronted Sargent about them.
Trampke says Sargent was a "little bit defensive," but agreed to resign as chief.
Sargent saying he has a black family member and pointing out that his fiancee's child is half Mexican.
"No matter what anybody wants to say, there is still a thing called freedom of speech. I can say whatever I want, whether I feel that way or not. In America, you have that freedom."
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