In April we reported on the firing of Police Chief Crystal Moore in Latta, South Carolina by Mayor Earl Bullard. Crystal is a lifelong resident of the town and has been a member of the police department for more than 20 years, beginning as a dispatcher while still in high school. She is also openly lesbian and Bullard is openly bigoted, suggesting at the time when he fired her that he would rather leave his children in the care of an alcoholic than leave them in the care of a lesbian.
At the time, Moore had the support of the overwhelming majority of the residents as well as the entire city council, but nothing could be done since the town operated under a strong mayor yet weak council system, the mayor had carte blanche to hire and fire — the council could plead with him to reinstate Moore but they could do nothing to force him to do it.
That all changed on Tuesday when the town held a referendum and by a vote of 328-147, approved changing the government to a strong council-weak mayor system, stripping Bullard of most of his powers.
“This is our town,” Tammy Taylor said, while exchanging high fives with those around her. “We got our town back. We got our chief back.”
The council had resorted to taking the drastic measure of calling the referendum after it became apparent that Bullard was not going to listen to their pleas to reinstate Moore and that he intended to continue to operate as a dictator, refusing to accept any compromise on any issue.
“Words cannot describe what it’s been like trying to work with him,” said Councilwoman Lutherine Williams. “We’d have never had any reason to even ask for the referendum, but he’s impossible. Everything with him is dictatorship. It’s his way or no way.”
“Every council member supports Crystal 100 percent. If we could put her back to work tonight, we would, but we’ll have to wait until the vote’s certified. But after that, yes ma’am,” Williams continued. “We’ve just taken all the clothes off the mayor. He’s naked. Once this vote is certified, he has no power. We getting ready to make him raise his hand and maybe we’ll give him three minutes like he’s done the citizens of Latta.”
The vote will be official after certification on Friday but Bullard has been put on notice that he will no longer be allowed to treat the town as his own personal property and the residents as his vassals.
For his part, the mayor has chosen to remain silent and calls to his office by the Morning News have not been returned.
The mood of the town was apparent all day on Tuesday with people in the streets carrying signs and wearing T-shirts, proclaiming their support for Moore and the proposed change in the form of government. When the votes were finally counted at the end of the day, no one was surprised at the outcome.
Moore has said that the support she has been given by the people of Latta is what has gotten her through these last two months, Tuesday she said:
“Words cannot describe how I feel. I am so excited. The town came out and spoke up for what was right, not just for me, but for the whole town. They’ve seen what’s been going on for the six months he’s been here as mayor. The council has really been trying hard to do what’s right for the town so this is a blessing. Thank you to everyone who came and voted. It took us all. Now, I’m ready to go back to work.”
h/t: Huffington Post