Cop Fired for Appearing On-Stage at Vital Remains Show
Update, 10:36 am: WFTV.com reports that Ricks handed in his resignation in October, and was patrolling the venue when he appeared on-stage. So he was not neglecting his duties, but he may have been deliberately making a statement. Thanks to Rob from Metal Injection for pointing this out to me!
Well, this is fucking bonkers.
Earlier this week, Sanford, Florida police officer Andrew Ricks appeared on stage with Vital Remains for the track “Let the Killing Begin.” He was in his uniform at the time because — you guessed it — he was on duty at the time.
Now, according to The Orlando Sentinel, Officer Ricks has been fired from the police force as a consequence of his appearance with Vital Remains:
“Ricks already had notified the city of his intention to resign effective Friday, but Police Chief Cecil B. Smith relieved him of his duties Wednesday morning, records show.
“‘An incident of this nature erodes the thin fibers of trust which already exist between the community and the police and it will not tolerated within the Sanford Police Department,’ Smith said in a statement released Thursday.”
The article goes on to say that “Ricks declined comment until after his resignation takes effect.” The article is not clear as to whether Ricks handed in his resignation before or after getting on stage with Vital Remains. If it was before, well, it seems clear he was looking to make a statement; if it was after, it’s possible he resigned knowing he was about to be fired.
The article also doesn’t say whether or not Ricks’ actions are considered a dereliction of his duties. Since he was on-duty, was he supposed to be somewhere else at the time? Did he just happen to be on-duty at/near the concert? If it’s the former, I can see where there’s an argument to be made that punitive actions should be taken. But given Chief Smith’s statement, it certainly seems like it was the latter — that is, that the sole reason for Ricks’ firing is his appearance with Vital Remains.
Assuming that’s the case… well… I suppose you could still make an argument that a cop shouldn’t be associating himself with a song called “Let the Killing Begin,” especially now, when police departments across the United States are (rightfully) coming under fire for using brutal, unnecessary force, usually against minorities.
But then, that’s the whole thing! Ricks was an officer in Sanford — y’know, where Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer, not a cop, but his acquittal speaks volumes about the state of our justice system and the town of Sanford in general (less shocking if you’ve ever been to Sanford — it’s redneck central). And “Let the Killing Begin” is a) about killing in the name of God, and b) entirely instrumental, save for dialogue samples from the (Jesus-centric) movie The Greatest Story Ever Told, and the screaming of the track’s title at the very end.
In other words, the way this whole incident reads is, “The Sanford Police Department is totally okay with actually killing black people, but is not at all okay with singing about killing in the name of God.” Chief Smith may have been looking to combat all the negative attention Sanford has gotten as of late, but he’s done just the opposite, reinforcing the notion that Sanford is place for the ignorant and insensitive.
I’m beyond curious to hear what Ricks has to say about this whole ordeal. Given that today would have been his last day on the force one way or the other, I’m betting we’ll hear from him by Monday at latest. Stay tuned…