Two Spalding County jailers were fired Monday after activists publicized their online comments expressing sympathy for Hitler and American neo-Nazi ideology.
“Both of these gentlemen are no longer employed by the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office based on some information that came to light today,” Sheriff Darrell Dix said. “It doesn’t fit what we want to represent to the community and what we want to represent as an agency.”
Activists with Atlanta Antifascists, a leftist group that works to expose far-right activists, published comments allegedly made by detention officers Howard Costner and Jesse Jones on YouTube, Facebook and other online forums.
In one exchange, Costner allegedly described “racism as normal” and “not a bad thing” and expressed admiration for George Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party.
“I’ll say this I am extremely right winged and I view racism as normal,” he said, according to comments posted last year to one of his YouTube videos. “Just read the definition of racism and it’s not a bad thing. That’s my own belief though. I went from being a libertarian Conservative to more Authoritarian.”
Jones’ online profile on the gaming platform Steam included the motto, “Hitler did nothing wrong.” Jones also connected on Steam with far-right profiles including one featuring a profile picture of Dylann Roof, the convicted mass murderer accused of the 2015 racially motivated slaying of black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., with a similar black sun design superimposed over it.
Both Costner and Jones had been with the sheriff’s office for less than a year. Dix said Costner had some minor disciplinary problems, but neither man did anything to reveal extremist tendencies.
“No use of force, nothing where there were claims of him violating people’s civil rights or mistreating (people),” he said.
A woman claiming to be Costner’s mother said her son’s online comments do not reflect who she believes him to be as a person.
The AJC is seeking comment from Costner and Jones. Return to AJC.com for updates.