PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia firefighter who posted a picture of himself holding a torch and wearing a Confederate flag hat on Facebook said he was drunk and making a “dumb joke” about the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
John Deluisi told WTXF-TV he uploaded the picture, which he captioned “Headed to VA,” in response to another post referencing the Charlottesville rally, where participants carrying torches decried the planned removal of a Confederate statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Deluisi, who’s white, tagged an African American co-worker in the post.
Three people died amid the turmoil in Charlottesville on Saturday, including a 32-year-old woman who was part of a crowd of counter-protesters struck by a car.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called Deluisi’s post “deeply disturbing.” The Philadelphia Fire Department said it could take disciplinary action.
Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said Tuesday that he was “utterly horrified and disgusted” by the post. Thiel said the department will conduct workplace conduct training for its 2,600 members.
“Racist images, symbols, words and actions are contrary to our mission and values,” Theil said. “And have absolutely no place in our Department.”
Deluisi later removed the picture and said he had been drinking “way too much.”
“I am very disappointed in myself and I’m very sorry,” Deluisi said. He said he thought his co-worker would get the joke about the post.
Deluisi has served as a firefighter for close to 20 years.