Crystal Moore has officially been reinstated as police chief of Latta, South Carolina after having been fired by the mayor for no other apparent reason except that she is lesbian. The town restructured its entire local government in order to save Moore her job.
Back in April, Mayor Earl Bullard fired Moore, who had served on the police force for 20 years, after issuing her seven reprimands, an apparent act of retribution for an investigation she completed that implicated him for not properly conducting a background check for a hire. City Councilman Jared Taylor revealed a phone message from Bullard in which he said he’d rather have someone “who drank too much” take care of his children than someone who is gay, because “that ain’t the damn way that they’re supposed to be.” This led many to conclude that Bullard fired Moore because she is lesbian.
The Town Council came to Moore’s defense, passing an emergency ordinance to block Bullard from replacing Moore for two months. In that time, the Council would consider whether or not to allow the mayor to continue having that much unilateral power.
This past week, residents of the town turned out to vote on a referendum that would restructure its government to place more power with the Council and less with the mayor. The initial results Tuesday night showed that the referendum had passed 328–147, stripping the mayor of much of his power. Still, the results would not be certified until Friday, and Bullard had one last trick up his sleeve to block Moore.
On Wednesday, Bullard appointed a new Police Chief by the name of Freddie Davis. Davis’s contract actually contained a clause attempting to protect him from the impending changes: “If the town of Latta changes the form of government and another person is hired or selected as Chief of Police, the employee as named in this contract shall be entitled to continue employment at the contacted rate of compensation.”
This caveat did not sway the Council, which voted Friday night after the referendum was certified to reinstate Moore and dismiss Davis from responsibilities he had not yet even assumed. She was immediately sworn back in to resume her job. It’s unclear if the Council will be bound to compensate Davis per his contract.
South Carolina remains one of 29 states where it’s still legal to fire individuals just because of their sexual orientation.