A Tennessee librarian has lost his job after allegedly burning copies of books by Donald Trump and right-wing commentator Ann Coulter.
The Chattanooga Public Library fired Cameron Dequintez Williams after allegedly posting videos of himself in his backyard in December pouring lighter fluid on Coulters How to Talk to Liberals (If You Must) and Trumps Crippled America.
Documents from a local council meeting suggest Williams broadcast himself live in the act, while local reports suggest the sound of the popular anti-Trump FDT anthem being played in the background.
Williams, a Black Lives Matter protester, said he was treated unfairly and was simply following library instructions to remove any old, damaged or false books.
The library has a weeding policy for removing certain books from circulation. But he says Trump and Coulters’ books don’t meet those criteria.
The items in question that appeared in the video have not been flagged for removal. We have a very rigorous and in-depth standard practice for the management of collections. And it’s part of the American Library Association, so it’s something all libraries follow, a library spokesperson said in December when the allegations were raised.
Cameron has been trained on this, the spokesperson said.
The library said the decision to terminate Williams was made after an investigation revealed that he improperly removed items from the library.
The City of Chattanooga has policies in place to protect the public interest, and we are following those guidelines, said library executive director Corinne Hill.
Williams was arrested last summer during protests after the death of George Floyds for allegedly blocking an emergency vehicle during the protests. He said the library was targeting because of his race. I was treated like a symbolic black man, he told the Washington Post. But as soon as I speak forcefully for black people, they basically tried to assassinate my character.
The library said last year that Williams’ alleged behavior constituted censorship and had no place in a library.
It is our job to ensure that all walks of life have access to information without judgment or prejudice. Whether these materials were actually destroyed in a fire or even if they had just been removed is against our policy, the spokesperson said at the time.
Because at the end of the day, we believe that censorship has no place in a library.
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