Governor removes fire commissioner over social media posts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia fire commissioner has been removed over “inappropriate and inflammatory” social media posts, Gov. Jim Justice said.

Martin Hess was removed Thursday from the West Virginia State Fire Commission after Justice was made aware of various recent posts, the governor said in a statement.

The brief statement did not describe the posts, but news outlets reported that one showed Hess wearing a shirt that said “all lives splatter, nobody cares about your protest” and depicted a vehicle hitting people.

“I will not tolerate behavior like this from anyone representing the State of West Virginia,” Justice said.

The action comes after the West Virginia National Guard this week said it was pursuing disciplinary action against a guardsman who posted on social media that he would attack people protesting the death of George Floyd.

The guardsman, Noah Garcelon, has already resigned from his position as an officer with the Winfield Police Department after making the comments. In a series of now-deleted posts, Garcelon wrote that he would “start firing live rounds” at protesters and “see how many I can run over before my car breaks down.”

West Virginia has had a handful of peaceful protests over the death of Floyd, who died after a police officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee into his neck even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

The death has set off days of both peaceful demonstrations and bursts of theft, vandalism and attacks on police across the nation. More than 10,000 people have been arrested at protests nationwide, according to an Associated Press tally.