No one in safe when launching racist attacks at President Obama. Many have fallen into the “freedom of speech” area where they feel within their rights to go at the commander in chief, but when you’re representing a company the ramifications of said actions can result in unemployment—a lesson which Denise Helms learned the hard way.
The 22-year-old of Turlock, Calif. was fired from her position as manager of a Cold Stone Creamery location, late last week, for using Facebook to weigh in on the president winning a second term. “And another 4 years of the n***er,” she wrote. “Maybe he will get assassinated this term.”
After the post was picked up in the news circuit, Helms was interview by the Modesto Bee, and didn’t understand why anyone took issue with her words. “I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal,” she said. “The assassination part is kind of harsh. I’m not saying like I would go do that or anything like that, by any means, but if it was to happen, I don’t think I’d care one bit.”
Helms deleted the post, but lashed out at those who think that calling the president the “n-word” and speaking on his assassination was in bad form. “So apparently my post last night about Obama got onto Twitter and Fox 40 came and interviewed me ‘cause apparently a lot of people in Sacramento think I’m crazy and racist. WOW is all I got to say!! I’m not racist and I’m not crazy. just simply stating my opinion.!!!”
She has since deleted that post as well.
Chris Kegle, store director of the Turlock Cold Stone Creamery, said that Helms’ words were “very disgusting,” and “do not reflect” the opinions of the company. After receiving more than a dozen angry phone messages once the story made local news, Kegle chose to fire Helms. “We made the decision because of her comments, but also the community feedback.”
Her words also raised eyebrows over at the Secret Service. Agent Scott Gillingham of the agency’s Sacramento office is looking into her comments. Unbeknownst to Helms, making threats about the president being assassinated is a felony under U.S. Code Section 871 which states that anyone who “knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States,” will be “fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
Not understanding that social media threats hold just as much weight as verbal threats, has gotten others in trouble for posting about the president. In September, a 21-year-old man in North Carolina tweeted about hitting Obama with “that Lee Harvey Oswald swag,” and was arrested.
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