Firefighter confronts firestorm about controversial tweet with remorse

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, June 17, 2013

(Screenshot sent in by viewer @KDMessano)
(Screenshot sent in by viewer @KDMessano)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The Augusta firefighter whose Twitter comment sparked a national firestorm on race has been getting death threats.

Last week, Andre Lacey tweeted: "How you signing the national anthem looking like an illegal immigrant?"

It was in response to a Hispanic child singing performing before the NBA finals. Lacey deleted his Twitter account and is apologizing.

"It had nothing to do with his race or anything like that. It was a joke done in poor taste," Lacey said.

"I can't tell you how many lives I've helped save. I was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, and I can't believe people are calling me racists," he said.

Lacey has worked as a firefighter for seven years in Augusta. He's also a former solider and father.

"My opinion is a lot different than some people. If somebody spoke on something my son was wearing, it's their opinion. It would not change anything," he said.

Lacey's opinion started a firestorm of racist and death tweets on Twitter. News 12 took to the streets of Augusta to find out if people thought it was racist or insensitive.

"The First Amendment should be protected among anything else. Even if people are offended, they have a right to say what they think," said Augusta resident Harry Mercer.

"It's racist. It's basically racial profiling. You're saying anyone from Hispanic descent must be an illegal immigrant," said Augusta resident Natalie Logue.

Others had different thoughts.

"He still has the freedom of speech, but it is racist," said Augusta resident Chelsie Williams.

"Being a racist is in a whole different category in itself. It was insensitive, and the guy took his stupid pills that morning," said Augusta resident JR Green.

For now, Lacey is logged off and says this will never happen again.

Lacey was not on company time or property when he made those comments, which are still under investigation city leaders.

The Augusta Fire Department has released its social media policy, which took effect on June 14. Click here to read the department's social media policy.

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