Bob Kosto was fired Thursday morning from his job as a Georgetown County firefighter after racist and neo-Confederate sympathetic posts on his personal Facebook account were called out by the community, with county officials being made aware over the past day.
The county’s spokesperson confirmed the termination.
“This was the first we were aware of these posts,” said Jackie Broach, the county’s public information officer. “After review, the decision to sever our relationship with Mr. Kosto was made today.”
Broach pointed specifically to the level of racism shown in the posts as the reason Kosto was immediately let go.
“We don’t tolerate racism on any level. In the last almost 24 hours, we’ve received numerous emails from the media as well as the community with concerns,” Broach said.
“If we can’t trust employees, that’s a problem for us. Our emergency responders, especially, need to have the trust of the community.”
Kosto’s post included memes threatening to kill or harm Black Lives Matter protesters and claiming that the coronavirus is a hoax.
The Facebook posts in question date back weeks, including one on July 6 when he changed his Facebook profile photo to feature the “three percenters” logo that represents radical anti-government sympathies, according to the Anti-Defamation League. As a firefighter, Kosto was a government employee.
On Wednesday, Ashlyn Brierre wrote a Facebook post asking people to call Georgetown County over Kosto’s posts.
The posts came to her attention after a friend got into an argument with Kosto over the merits of wearing face masks.
“Just his demeanor and the names he was calling her made me want to look at his posts. So I did and I was like, ‘Holy cow,’ ” Brierre said.
She said she gave Kosto a warning that his posts would be flagged.
Brierre said she doesn’t like to see someone lose their job, but she felt Georgetown County handled it well.
“I don’t like to see people get fired, but I do think it is important to hold people accountable,” Brierre said. “He may think it is a freedom of speech issue but it comes down to what your job is and do people trust that you can take care of them.”
Broach pointed to “taking responsibility for your actions.”
“You certainly have First Amendment rights, but you are subject to the consequences of the things you say,” Broach said.
Kosto did not respond to a request for comment.
Broach indicated department directors will review the social media policies and disseminate that to all county employees. While the county doesn’t have the bandwidth to check up on every employee’s social channels, she encourages the community to hold them accountable.
“We have a lot of employees and we just don’t have time to monitor their social media. Additionally, many of them, like my account, are locked down. Hopefully, we wouldn’t be able to see a lot of it,” Broach said. “But certainly if anyone tips us off to something, then we will certainly review it and if that behavior is inappropriate, we will act accordingly.”