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Florida Man Caught On Video Hurling Racial Slur At Black Beachgoer Turns Out To Be Town's Fire Chief

Florida Man Caught On Video Hurling Racial Slur At Black Beachgoer Turns Out To Be Town's Fire Chief
@WTXL Tallahassee/YouTube

A man and his family vacationing on Florida's St. George Island were accosted by a man yelling racial slurs at them when heading home from the beach.

Making this unpleasant encounter all the more shocking?

The man in question turned out to be the local fire chief.

WTXL Tallahassee reported on the story.

Louisiana based Kylon Wisham has taken regular vacations to St. George Island for the last seven years.

This past Saturday, after picking up his son and nephew from the basketball court, Wisham encountered a man at a four-way stop, who was later identified as Fire Chief Kevin Delahanty.

Delahanty motioned for Wisham to go first, but after doing so, Wisham noticed that Delahanty seemed to be following him.

Wisham told WTXL that after pulling over and lowering their windows, Delahanty initially asked him if he knew where he was, before repeating the question, this time with added profanity.

Delahanty then reportedly told Wisham that he needed to "respect this island", prompting Wisham to begin recording this encounter with his phone.

In the short video, Wisham could be heard asking Delahanty if he needed help.

But Delahanty simply asked the question right back at Wisham, before driving off shouting a racial slur.

Wisham credited having his young son in the back seat of the car with making him think very carefully as to how he would respond to Delahanty's outburst.

"My mindset was he's gonna watch the way I respond."
"There's power in the way you respond."
"So in that moment, I was like you know what if I respond the wrong way, it could go here."
"If I get out of my car, I could lose my life, so in that moment, it was a teachable moment."

But Wisham made it very clear the behavior Delahanty demonstrated should not be tolerated.

"In that moment, I thought that our ancestors fought so hard for us to have peace and to live equally, equity."
"And right now in 2022 that still exists."
"It doesn't matter what kind of degree, you have, or what kind of accolades you have."
"They see you as that word, and it is very disrespectful, very degrading and it shouldn't be but it exists."

Wisham immediately called the Franklin county Sheriff's office, but while officers responded to the scene, no arrest or charges were made against Delahanty.

Franklin County Sheriff AJ Smith toldWTXL he and his officers did everything they legally could.

"Our officer handled it appropriately."
"We were called, we responded."
"We made a report."
"It was reported to the county administrator as it should've been."
"Unfortunately, it's not against the law to say ugly and crude things."
"That's the case in this incident, it's not unlawful."

But Delahanty did face consequences back at the fire station.

As St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department Board attorney Barbara Sanders revealed in a statement, Delahanty was suspended from his position.

"The Board of the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department apologizes for the recent incident between one of our visitors and the Fire Chief of the Department."
"The behavior reported is not representative of our organization or the values of our community."
"After a special Board meeting, the Board immediately suspended Mr. Delahanty from all duties."
"Mr. Delahanty will undergo counseling for anger management and will also attend diversity training as directed by the Board."
"The Board is extremely sorry for the actions of the Fire Chief and will extend a personal apology to Mr. Kylon Wishom."

While Wisham was grateful for the action taken by the fire department, he did express his doubts as to whether or not Delahanty was facing sufficient consequences, particularly as the details of his suspension and training were not made clear.

"I feel like it is huge that they acted fast on it."
"But when you look at suspension, what kind of suspension is it?"
"Is he still being paid?"
"When it's a diversity training, you know, who's giving this training?"
"When they say anger management, I mean will that help?"
"That's the questions I have."
"Will all these things you're putting in place help?"

Viewers of WTXL's report on YouTube agreed with Wisham that Delahanty got off far too easy, and deserved to be fired or even arrested for harassment.

"I'm so sick of hearing about more training or retraining. I'm sorry, but YOU CANNOT be retrained for being Stupid, or having an Authoritarian Personality or just being a Racist FOOL, ... you just can't."- Bill Kenny.

"Can someone please tell me why using that word is not against the law. That needs to go up through the legislature and make it a law and if you can prove somebody using it fine the heck out of them. I'm tired of hearing this."- Dan Santivasci.

"Regardless of the apologies and the punishment, how are those two young men going to be affected by this interaction? Will they believe that wherever they go from this point on they have to prepare themselves for this same act?"

"Are they now looking back at the life wondering is that what was really happening that day when dad was upset? Will they be able to move on without fear of racism?"

"This is something that's unforgettable and certain to happen again. A lesson we wish never has to be learned."- airryn lee.

"You do not train out racism. This guy should be fired."- blanche starbong.

"What is happening to Florida? It's like some kind of crazy fever in the past few years."- JD Goodwin

Several Twitter users joined in calling for Delahanty's permanent dismissal as fire chief.

Disappointed as he was with this outcome, Wisham expressed his hope his experience might lead to some much needed conversations in making the use of racial slurs against the law.

"The most disheartening part about it is I feel like if we don't understand the system is broken, we can't fix that system."
"[The officer's] words he said 'What he did was wrong, but it's not illegal'."
"I feel like that's a pass."
"We can't give them a pass for doing the wrong thing."
"This is horrible"

Wisham also expressed how this experience has made him think twice about vacationing on St George Island again.

"I feel like now, we have to really do our homework before traveling."
"We have been going to St. George the last seven years."
"I've never encountered anything like this."

Sheriff Smith, for his part, hopes Wisham and his family do return for an eighth year, claiming Delahanty does not reflect the views of the rest of the community on St George Island.

"This is not the way the majority of Franklin County acts or feels.
"We're an accepting community here."