CHATTANOOGA — A Tennessee public library employee who helped organize protests against police brutality was fired last week after being accused of burning library books by conservative authors.
Cameron Williams had been on leave from the Chattanooga Public Library since December after someone complained to the library about an Instagram video in which he burned copies of conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)” and former President Donald Trump’s “Crippled America” while Trump protest song “FDT” played in the background, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
A statement from the library on Williams’ dismissal does not mention the book burning but states that Williams “violated City and Library policies by improperly removing items from the Library’s collections.”
Williams told the newspaper that he did remove books but that he didn’t violate any policy in doing so. He said his attorney tried to work out a deal with the library where he could return books still in his possession and refund the money for those that “could not be returned,” but the city declined.
“I really believe that this was political,” he said. “It’s definitely a perpetuation of white supremacy. None of this would have never ever ever been a problem if someone who doesn’t believe in me speaking for equality for Black people wouldn’t have reported it.”
“The City of Chattanooga has policies in place to protect the public’s interest, and we follow those directives,” Library Executive Director Corinne Hill said in the library’s news release.
After Williams’ suspension in December, library spokesperson Christina Sacco said Williams had been recently trained on the library’s “weeding” policy, which describes how and when to remove books from circulation. However, the books in the video were not flagged for removal. Sacco said personal feelings have no place in deciding what materials are removed and any bias in those decisions violates library policy.