The York-Poquoson (Virginia) sheriff disciplined a deputy, who dressed in blackface for her Halloween costume of Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), only after the local NAACP chapter informed the media, WNCT-TV reported.
“This is a serious situation, this is nothing to be taken lightly. This is not a game, these are human beings, these are people that have feelings, emotions, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” stated Brian Smalls, president of the York-James City-Williamsburg NAACP chapter, according to the news outlet.
A friend forwarded Smalls a Facebook photographs of Deputy Jean Browning shortly after Halloween. After seeing the photos, he met with York-Poquoson Sheriff Danny Diggs on Nov. 6 to discuss the issue. Smalls said everyone in the room agreed that Browning’s blackface costume was unacceptable. However, he left the meeting without a promise that the sheriff would discipline the deputy, so he contacted a local TV station. Smalls believed that the minimum punishment should have been a demotion from her position as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, instructor at schools.
After seeing Smalls’ press release, Diggs held a press conference on Wednesday. He stated that Browning and her boyfriend attended a Halloween party with him dressed as President Donald Trump, making them a political odd couple because of the feud between Wilson and the president. Diggs disputed the accusation that he ignored the NAACP’s complaint, believing that there would be a second meeting. He announced that Browning, a 20-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, is reassigned to courtroom duty. She had served as a DARE instructor for the past 10 years. He added that she regrets the situation and had never before been accused of racial insensitivity.