Pennsylvania has been described as Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and a whole lot of Mississippi in between.
Mark Kessler, “chief” of the one-man police force in Gilberton, Pa., seems determined to prove that. Mississippi goddam:
The mayor of Gilberton, Pennsylvania is standing by her city’s police chief despite a series of profanity-laced and threatening videos.
In a video that has received wide attention, police chief Mark Kessler repeatedly tells those upset by his use of profanity to “go f*ck yourself” as he fires various automatic weapons.
… Tuesday on his Facebook page, Kessler called for a massive rally to “show these tyrants we will not stand for any more violations on our constitution or our freedoms.”
“I’m calling on all true Americans, all militia members, all true oath keepers to assemble, be ready to march on a tyrannical county government right here in Schuylkill county Pennsylvania, democrats are the true enemy of our country, our freedoms, our constitution, along with liberal news agency’s, liberal news reporters, much like hitlers nazis, time we clean these antiamerican thugs from office,” he wrote.
Did I mention that in addition to serving as Gilberton’s police chief, Kessler is also a member of the North Schuylkill School District’s board of education? Isn’t it lovely that the education of Schuylkill County’s children is being overseen by a man with such a shaky grasp of punctuation, history, law and reality?
Kessler is also a big fan of conspiracy nut Alex Jones, and a birther. He despises immigrants, loves “patriot” militia groups, and is a fan of the anti-Semitic, anti-government band Poker Face. Basically he’s the least qualified, least intelligent, least reputable law enforcement official in the area since the police chief in nearby Shenandoah wound up in prison for obstructing justice in the beating death of a Hispanic man. (Of course, this is the part of Pennsylvania that also gave us Sheriff James F. Martin.)
The (Allentown) Morning Call reports on the non-response from Gilberton’s mayor:
Despite the ensuing media stir and calls to Borough Hall the video generated Tuesday, Mayor Mary Lou Hannon said she saw no reason to discipline Kessler, who said he made the video to draw attention to gun rights. Hannon noted he did it on his own time and violated no laws.
So it’s fine if the chief of police declares himself the sworn, violent enemy of half the citizens in your town — just so long as he did it on his own time.
Charles Hepler, school board president in the North Schuylkill School District, said he had not seen the video and declined to comment because it does not involve board business.
Again, Kessler wasn’t acting in his official capacity as a school-board member when he threatened the violent overthrow of the county government. He did that on his own time.
And besides, who better to help the school district formulate its anti-bullying program than an angry, violent man-child who has never outgrown his own need to be a schoolyard bully?
Kessler is also the founder/president/imperial grand wizard of something called “Constitutional Security Force” — a pseudo-militia dedicated to the Second Amendment, bad web design and CAPITAL LETTERS. I was both relieved and disappointed to see that the “Girls of the CSF Calandar” listed for sale from Kessler’s CSF site, is not yet available. All the link provides is this message: “For information on modeling for our calendar please email us.” (I mention this only to ridicule the ridiculous, not to highlight the enormous potential for righteous mischief.)
The links on Kessler’s website celebrate an array of racist, anti-Semitic and conspiratorial fringe groups from the radical right wing. Yet neither the mayor nor the school board president is in the least concerned that these views are held and promoted by Gilberton’s police chief and a member of that school board.
Gilberton is a five-minute drive from Shenandoah, a town still reeling from the 2009 arrest of four high school students who beat a man to death — a crime that town’s police chief eventually went to prison for attempting to cover up. Having witnessed such a thing so close to home, you’d think that Mayor Hannon and Board President Hepler would be a bit more concerned over Kessler’s erratic behavior, brutish ignorance and violent rhetoric.
But they’re not. Kessler is their guy.
At least once a week, some newspaper or magazine prints an article fretting about how young people may be damaging their future careers by carelessly posting on YouTube and other social media. Take another look at that profanity-laced video from “Chief” Kessler. Then look again at the links he endorses on his website. The kind of language and behavior in that video, and Kessler’s choice to associate himself with so many hateful groups seems far worse than the errors of judgment those articles warn young people against. In a sense, then, Kessler disproves all those articles. He shows that even someone as shamelessly disgraceful as “Chief” Mark Kessler can still get a job and even get elected to public office.
Well, in Gilberton, anyway.
Update: From Alex Seitz-Wald’s piece on Kessler at Salon:
In 2011, while off duty in a bar, Kessler intervened in a fight and drew his weapon. He shot himself in the hand. “We’re not finding anything that leads to another gun being there,” a state police commander said at the time. “We’re finding there was one gun there and it was (Kessler’s).”