GILBERTON, Pa. (AP) – A small-town police chief who appears in online videos using profanity and shooting automatic weapons has been suspended for 30 days without pay.
The borough council of Gilberton voted 5-1 at a meeting Wednesday night to suspend Chief Mark Kessler, saying he misused borough property. It said he used the weapons without permission.
Kessler has said he made the videos to draw attention to the erosion of the constitutional rights of free speech and to bear arms and he increasingly fears a government out of control.
He said after the meeting that he wouldn’t apologize for making the videos and didn’t regret having done so. He said he looked forward to getting back to work after the suspension.
Gun rights activists descended on the community of about 800 people, in Schuylkill County in eastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal country, to show support for Kessler, some carrying flags and displaying weapons.
In one video, Kessler criticizes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s support of a United Nations treaty aimed at controlling the international arms trade, which some gun rights advocates fear could lead to restrictions on domestic weapons. Kessler then fires a weapon and screams, “Come and get it!”
Gilberton Mayor Mary Lou Hannon has said she found the language in the videos offensive and she understood that others did as well.
“I think it’s blackened our eye a little, but we are a strong community,” Hannon said after the meeting. “We will go on from here.”
Officials have said that Kessler bought the weapons with his own money and donated them to the police department, an action approved by the council. Kessler told PennLive.com on Wednesday that he also donated the ammunition used in the videos.