Republican Party volunteer faces tweet backlash

Groups call for volunteer to step down after tweet about Ferguson protesters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local volunteer with the Republican Party is facing some backlash over tweets she posted regarding the fallout from the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.

One of Kim Crenier's tweet suggested using fire hose on the protesters. It read:

"A suggestion for Ferugson- fire hoses. Grt big fire hoses, serious water pressure. Knock those thugs over. They probly need a shower anyway."

The controversial tweet set off a firestorm of criticism from many political organizations, who gathered outside the GOP headquarters Friday for a news conference asking for Crenier to be removed from her position in the party.

"That's insensitive, it's racist and we're asking the executive committee for the Republican Party of the state of Florida or the national executive committee to relieve Mrs. Crenier of duty," Pastor R.L. Gundy said. "We've asked (Duval County Republican Party Chairman Rick Hartley) to do that. If they don't wanna do it, we think Mr. Hartley and Mrs. Crenier should be relieved of duty. This is just unacceptable."

There's also an online petition calling for Crenier to step down from her leadership role.

"I was incense and I was a person who was previously registered as NPA voter in this county, and I voted for Conservative Republicans as well as Democrats and Independents, but the more I heard this kind of talk coming from Republicans, they lost my respect and they lost my vote," said Terri Neal, of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition.

But Crenier said she's apologized for the tweet, and she's only a volunteer with the party.

"I'm not an employee. I'm not a government employee," Crenier said. "I'm not paid, taxpayer funded or anything. I'm a volunteer. Enough is enough. Why is this news? I have apologized for the insensitivity of the fire hose comment. But as I told you, what I was responding to was not reported, so it looks really bad."

Crenier said what she was responding to was an on-going Twitter conversation, where people were saying to use things like rubber bullets or tear gas on the protesters in Ferguson. Her self-described tongue-in-cheek response was why not use a fire hose?

Many people unhappy with Crenier's tweet said there are racial overtones to what she wrote, because of the way fire hoses were used on protesters in the civil rights era.

"We have a serious problem with anyone who works in or around an environment that not only once but two times have shown racism and insensitivity toward the community," said Gundy. "Mr. Rick Hartley's previous comments calling the mayor of Jacksonville a thug, it's unacceptable, it's bad for culture, bad for community."

Crenier said that never crossed her mind when she made the tweet.

Hartley told News4Jax on Friday that the GOP had no comment on the controversy.

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