Here’s another entry into the “Racism is Dead” file: a Kentucky fire chief is facing sharp criticism for the startling level of unabashed racism that he put on display after he refused to help a family of stranded motorists because they were Black, and then suggesting that an Asian-American reporter didn’t understand English.
A Bullitt County Sheriff’s deputy’s body camera recording, obtained by WDRB, shows the Fire Chief Julius Hatfield discussing a car accident on I-65 in September. Hatfield goes out of his way to help Loren Dicken, who is white, offering to have his “guys” change the tire. When Dicken first tries to turn the offer down, Hatfield insists, telling Dicken that “it will save you a bill.”
The firefighters working for Hatfield even went so far as to pick up Dicken from the hospital and take him back to the firehouse, where his car was waiting for him — repaired by the firefighters.
If that sounds like awesome community service, that’s because it is. Unfortunately, it’s not for everyone. When a family of four black motorists asked for help, that hospitality vanished.
When the Bullitt County deputy told Hatfield over the radio that “I’ve got a family of four from Cincinnati, I got to do something with,” Hatfield fired back with “We ain’t taking no n*ggers here.” He then laughed.
Instead of offering to help driver Chege Mwangi, the deputy told him to call the AAA motor club. Mwangi told WDRB that he noticed the firefighters helping Dicken and other motorists, but his family didn’t think much of it since they weren’t injured. He did note, however, that the sheriff’s deputy was helpful.
Hatfield would lay his bigotry out again, this time when WDRB’s Valerie Chinn attempted to ask Hatfield about the financial management of the Bullitt Fire Department at a townhall meeting. In the video of the public meeting, Hatfield asked “do you understand English darling?”
He then told them to turn the camera off, and after Chinn pressed the issue a second time, said “I asked you once tonight if you understand English.” Hatfield may be speaking English, but English or not, it didn’t seem to help his memory; he told Chinn that he didn’t recall the remarks while responding to the accident on I-65, and that it was almost certainly a “slip of the tongue.”
You can watch the WDRB footage below:
WDRB 41 Louisville News