By Adrianne Murchison, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga
A Roswell 911 communications manager fired earlier this month following an investigation into her racially charged Facebook posts said she lost her job only because she appealed a demotion.
“It’s Roswell’s way of intimidating people to not appeal their decisions,” Rhonda Moore, 49, of Canton, said this week in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Moore was initially demoted in July after a police investigation into her Facebook posts. She told the AJC on Wednesday that she would still be employed if she hadn’t appealed that decision.
“They had given me my punishment by demoting me,” she said, “I was already back at work.”
Roswell Community Relations Manager Julie Brechbill said she couldn’t comment on personnel matters.
Moore’s Facebook posts came at a sensitive time for the city. In June, two peaceful protests were held by Black churches on consecutive Saturdays outside city hall. Police Chief James Conroy spoke at both events. During the second rally, Mayor Lori Henry promised to form an equity advisory committee on race.
Moore’s postings were discovered by city employees before the June 13 rally against racism and police misconduct, which drew hundreds of people to downtown Roswell. Police then launched a four-week investigation, during which Moore was placed on administrative leave.
According to police documents, Moore confirmed her Facebook postings included an image of the Confederate flag with a message that said: “If this symbol represents racism in America, so do these.” The post featured the logos of the NAACP, the BET network, Black History Month, the Democratic Party and other organizations.
Another post read, “Only in America can an ethnic group have black awareness month, a black holiday, black only colleges, black only dating sites, black only bars and clubs and turn around and call everyone else racist.”
Moore told the investigators in a recorded interview that she didn’t recall the latter post but it did fit with her beliefs. She said her Facebook page is set to private and she’s entitled to her personal beliefs.
Moore also told investigators that the Confederate flag reflects Southern heritage and has nothing to do with racism. “It stands for the 13 colonies and the blood of Christ,” she said. “It has nothing to do with slavery, oppression or anything else like that. It’s history.”
Two of Moore’s colleagues at the 911 center, Kenya Brooks and Akira Cooke, told investigators that they were surprised and upset by her Facebook posts. Cooke said Moore was considered a mother-figure during work shifts. Brooks said Moore was a go-to person for questions. She said Moore would call to check on her when she was out sick.
“She has more common sense than a lot of people I know,” Brooks said. “And that’s another reason why I was shocked that she would feel that way about, you know, post that.
The initial investigation was conducted by Detective Andrew Ross and Capt. Charles Greco with the Office of Professional Standards. At its conclusion, the police chief demoted Moore from her senior position to communications officer and cut her pay 5%, according to police documents.
In a memo to Moore, Conroy said her Facebook posts were racially charged and insensitive.
“It is imperative that when an employee posts images they consider the potential ramifications when viewed by others on not only themselves, but the City and the Roswell Police Department as a whole,” he wrote.