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Pennsylvania Police Chief Fired Months After Video Rants

NPR icon by Scott Neuman
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A Pennsylvania police chief who gained national attention for a pair of Internet videos in which he shouted obscenities against liberals, Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations as he fired high-powered rifles, has been fired.

Mark Kessler was suspended back in July, when the Gilberton, Pa., borough council first voted to (temporarily) relieve him of duty. On Thursday, local lawmakers handed Kessler his pink slip.

In the profanity-laced YouTube videos, Kessler calls Kerry a "traitor" and challenges the United Nations to "come and take" his weapons. In another video, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as well as liberals and Democrats are the target of his ire.

The Associated Press describes Kessler as someone "active in gun circles" who "started an armed group that critics call a private militia."

Kessler, speaking after the vote on Thursday, says he isn't surprised by the action.

"They already made their decision in July, they are just going through the steps," he said.

He's argued that the videos posted online are protected free speech.

WFMZ-TV reported at the time of his original suspension that:

"The Council said it disciplined Kessler because the guns in the videos were owned by the borough and they were used without prior authorization. Kessler donated the weapons and the ammunition to the borough in January."

The AP says:

"Kessler told reporters that he had been an excellent police chief and had nothing to apologize for. He said he'd broken no laws: 'None. I'd be in handcuffs.'"

"'My message was to wake up the people who are independents,' he said, to say, 'We've had enough and something needs to change, because we're in bad shape all around. Not only here in this little town but across the nation. It's a mess.'"

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