Colorado fire chief who said he would 'have fun hosing human trash into gutter' resigns after severe backlash
JJ Hoffman apologized online after his comments but people were not happy with his racist comments about protesters
LYONS, COLORADO: A Colorado fire chief has resigned from his position after he suggested that he was open to having "some fun" by hosing down those protesting in the city over George Floyd's Memorial Day death.
According to the Lyons Fire Protection District, JJ Hoffman is a 20+ year veteran on the force but had caught flak over his comments on a private forum, which were screenshot and circulated widely online.
According to Colorado Public Radio News, one of the users wrote: "I think Denver police should have Denver fire department give it a 2 and 1/2 inch line, and their monitor, and wash all this human trash into the gutter." Hoffman had responded, "Haha, if I was down there, I definitely would open up our high-pressure bumper turret and have some fun."
The post provoked a swift backlash, eventually forcing Hoffman to apologize. However, it appeared that the fire chief was annoyed at having been caught more than anything else.
"All I can say is sorry if I offended you," Hoffman wrote on Facebook. "I am not trying to belittle history. I am upset that the protesting in Denver turned into riots. I get that people are angry about the death of this man in Minneapolis. I am angry as well. I do not at all agree with it and something needs to be done." Hoffman went on to say that he had not made the comment on a public forum and that be had been betrayed by one of his friends who wanted to besmirch his name. "I posted a very long thread on my own personal page and another private page about the protests in Denver last night. That, obviously, one of my so-called 'friends' on Facebook decided to screenshot and send out to the masses to try and smear me without the rest of the story," he claimed. Hoffman's apology did little to quell the anger that was being directed towards him, not just from social media, but also from local and state officials.
Democratic state representative, Jonathan Singer of Longmont, who represents Lyons, said Hoffman's post was "racist" and that the chief's apology was not enough because he had already lost credibility and the public's trust.
In a letter addressed to the Colorado State Fire Chiefs and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) calling for action to be taken against Hoffman, Singer wrote, "The ‘human trash'? The thousands of people in Denver, myself included, who have been protesting the death of George Floyd. Protesting the deaths of literally countless black men and women at the hands of law enforcement. Protesting the racial inequity that has haunted our country since before its inception. Protesters — that’s who this 'human trash' is."
On June 1, Hoffman formally apologized for his comments and said that his "thoughtless remark" had reflected poorly on the district and himself, but continued to insist that his anger was directed at rioters and not peaceful protesters.
"While my remark was made in jest, and was meant to refer to the rioters whose actions followed the peaceful daytime protests, it was brought to my attention by several community members that my remark was insensitive, particularly given the historical context of the use of water cannons to break up civil rights demonstrations," he wrote. "Those community members are right, and I acknowledge that my remark was thoughtless and inappropriate. For this, I sincerely apologize."
A week later, the Lyons Fire Protection District Board of Directors announced that Hoffman had decided to resign from his post as fire chief over his comments.