A former high school swim coach in Wisconsin says he was fired for his political beliefs after he posted to Facebook comparing Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan.
Tim Damico was a former assistant coach for Germantown High School in Eastern Wisconsin. Damico reached out to a local conservative radio host to claim that he’d been fired for his political beliefs.
“On Thursday July 9th I shared a post to my Facebook page comparing the KKK to the BLM organization,” Damico wrote. “Not the statement ‘Black Lives Matter’ because of course I agree with the statement, but the political organization is not something that I as a conservative can or will ever support.”
The Ku Klux Klan is an American hate group that formed at the end of the Civil War to intimidate Black people and to prevent them from enjoying basic civil rights, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center. The KKK had several more revivals throughout American history – in 1920, a resurgent Klan movement opposed Catholic and Jewish immigration, and in the 1960s, the Klan rose again to prominence to oppose the civil rights movement.
Black Lives Matter has become both a rallying slogan and a global organization formed in response to unarmed Black men killed by police or by local vigilantes. The organization itself formed in 2013 after a Black 17-year-old named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a member of a neighborhood watch. The man, George Zimmerman, was charged with but acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter.
Damico says his Facebook post was sent to school board members, and the athletic director contacted him to let him know the school would not be renewing his coaching contract.
“I came to the conclusion that I am being fired, not for my inability to be a great coach, but because my political stance doesn’t fit with the prevailing narrative,” Damico wrote. “I’m a conservative gun owner who supports President Trump and I will never stop supporting what I believe just to save my job.”
Damico says the athletic director also referenced other posts Damico had shared or posted on Facebook referencing “rioting and looting, most having firearm references.”
School board president Bob Soderberg responded via his own Facebook post, saying Damico “has not told the truth, and certainly not the whole truth about this situation.”
“The posting shockingly states ‘#BLM is a cult and no different than the #KKK’,” Soderberg writes. “Mr. Damico also posted a statement that ‘black lives matter is a joke.’ Again, there’s nothing here distinguishing between supporting the statement (which Mr. Damico claims to support) and the organization (which Mr. Damico opposes) so, once again, Mr. Damico gives the reader no reason to believe that he is making any such distinction.”
In a story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, District superintendent Brett Stousland said that coaches are at-will employees and not guaranteed a new contract each season.
“As a district, we have a duty to our students, our staff and our community to make certain that our sports programs and activities are not disrupted, and that our personnel don’t actively discourage the student body for going out for sports,” Stousland told the Journal Sentinel. “We felt that his behavior would cause such a substantial disruption within our swimming program that would seriously damage student participation.”