Katina Jones, a Little Rock, Arkansas, Police Department recruit, who is black, was fired, for a post she made on Facebook, when she was 16-years-old, KARK reports.
Jones, who is now 25-years-old, posted a Lil Wayne lyric containing the word “n*gga” to her Facebook page while in high school. She is now threatening to file suit over her firing, should she not be reinstated.
As part of her training, Jones and her fellow recruits were ordered to be mindful of what they posted to social media. She made her account private. However, a friend of a fellow department employee accessed her account, and sent details of the Lil Wayne post to the department.
“They said, ‘Well, you didn’t clear everything out, and you had that offensive word, ‘You’re fired,’” Jones’ lawyer, Robert Newcomb said.
The lawyer has sent a letter to the city board and city manager, informing them that he is investigating whether or not the department broke the law by dismissing Jones.
He believes that the firing could be challenged on First Amendment grounds.
“What [officers] need to learn, from the absurd position taken by the Little Rock Police Department, is that they need to just do away [having Facebook] and give up that [First Amendment free speech] right.” Free speech, he argues ought not be limited.
To this end, Newcomb is also representing another recruit fired by the department over a social media post. This one was put up by Brandon Schiefelbein, a white man who posted a picture of a sleeping black colleague with the caption, “Go night-night, n*gga. Go night-night.”
A third recruit, Brandon Gurley, was also recently fired for reasons that include his social media posts. Gurley is not being represented by Newcomb; intetestingly, he is the colleague that forwarded the department Jones’ Lil Wayne post.
Even if Jones’ firing wasn’t illegal, Newcomb said that it was unfair. “Do we judge the chief and the others by the type of music they listen to?”
Newcomb said that he also worries about the message the department is sending.
“The city justifiably wants more African Americans. And here was an African American female that they invested thousands and thousands of dollars in that was doing well,” he said, suggesting Jones’ firing would discourage other members of Little Rock’s black community from applying to be police officers.
Although Newcomb has yet to receive word on the city’s plan for his clients’ case, he hopes that the city board will take it up at their next meeting. Should they fail to do so, the lawyer said he will file suit.