Virginia officer allegedly fired for donating to Rittenhouse defense fund asking for job back

A Virginia police officer was fired in April after sending an anonymous $25 donation to Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense. Now that Rittenhouse has been acquitted of the murder charges, the officer is asking to have his job back.

William Kelly, Norfolk Lieutenant, was fired several months ago by city officials for donating to fund the legal fees for Rittenhouse, who shot three people, killing two of them, during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020. Even though his donation on GiveSendGo was anonymous, a data leak revealed the names who donated to the case, and The Guardian reported that information in April.

At first, Kelly was placed on administrative duty while his actions were being investigated before he was fired. Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer said in an April statement, “I have reviewed the results of the internal investigation involving Lt. William Kelly. Chief Larry Boone and I have concluded Lt. Kelly’s actions are in violation of City and departmental policies.” 

Kelly told the Daily Mail on Friday that he hopes to have a hearing date before the end of January to sort out his potential return to work, but he hopes to handle the matter privately before then. He believes he was fired only because he was in support of Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense.

“If I had a different opinion and I donated to a fund for the victims and made comments about how Mr. Rittenhouse was a murderer, nobody would have cared or tried to get me fired,” he said, also adding that his opinion about the self-defense claim does not impact his ability to carry out his duties as a police officer.

“This is America. You can agree with your neighbors and other people in your community and you can disagree with them. Just because someone has a different opinion than you, it doesn’t mean you should destroy their lives, take their job away.” 

Kelley filed a grievance in May requesting for his job back: “My dismissal reflects inconsistency, unfairness and discrimination by the City of Norfolk in regard to speech by members of the Norfolk Police Department. I engaged in speech which was private and anonymous but became public through no fault of my own.”

He added a note that police chief Boone was marching in uniform with Black Lives Matter protestors, which was allowed by the department. “The Chief of Police of the Norfolk Police Department, in contrast, has been permitted to parade through the streets of Norfolk, wearing his Norfolk Police Department uniform, holding a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign while marching with a crowd protesting against police and law enforcement,” he said. During his interview on Friday, Kelly said that his dismissal has caused his fellow officers to fear sharing their opinions.




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