“In that moment, I thought that our ancestors fought so hard for us to have peace and to live equally, equity. And right now, in 2022, that still exists,” this is what K. Wishom, of Louisiana, said to WTXL about the incident that happened late March while he was on a holiday in Florida, when he was verbally attacked by a random man for no reason, who later ended up to be the local volunteer fire department chief.
What should have been another spring holiday for him and his family, Wishom ended up to be victim of racism for no apparent reason. What is even more concerning is the fact that the number of racial incidents countrywide is on the rise in the last couple of months and Wishom has been just one among the many victims lately.
According to the local WTXL, Wishom has chosen the same palce in Florida as his vacation spot for the last seven years. As he was headed to pick his son and nephew up from the basketball court late March, he was encountered by another driver at the four-way stop. Nothing indicated that the same driver who waved him to go first at the four-way stop will later verbally attack him.
According to Wishom, as soon as he started driving to his home from the basketball court, he noticed that the man who previously waved him started following him down the road and followed every single turn he made. When Wishom made sure he had been followed, he decided to pull over on the side of the road.
“Initially, he said, ‘Do you know where you are?’ And then he uses different verbiage, ‘Do you know where the F you are?’ And I put the window down. I said, ‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘You have to have respect for this island boy, you have to have respect for this island.’ So after he said that I rolled the window back up.”
Wishom, who had his little son on the backseat, says the encounter with the racist man will use it as a life lesson and teach his son to real values in life. Fortunately, Wishom took his cell phone and recorded the incident that was later used as proof against the attacker. From what was heard in the video, the man asked Wishom if he needs help, before pulling off, shouting a racial slur. As he drove off, the man is heard yelling “f***ing n***er.” (The video of the incident can be seen at the end of the post)
As soon as the man left the scene, Wishom called police and learned that the man in the video was the local volunteer FD chief K. Delahanty. The responding officers reported the incident properly to their administrator. “It doesn’t matter what kind of degree, you have, or what kind of accolades you have. They see you as that word, and it is very disrespectful, very degrading and it shouldn’t be but it exists,” Wishom told the station.
While Wishom hoped that the local fire chief will be arrested, he knew it was very unlikely to happen, something that was later confirmed by the Sheriff’s Office. “Unfortunately, it’s not against the law to say ugly and crude things. That’s the case in this incident, it’s not unlawful,” the Sheriff said.
When the fire department board learned about the incident, they immediately suspended Delahanty pending further investigation and apologized for his behavior. It was April 12 when Delahanty officially filed his resignation and it was immediately accepted by the board members. The board members released the following statement:
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, the Board of Directors of the St. G. Island Volunteer Fire Department accepted the resignation of Kevin Delahanty. Ben Mathewson will continue to serve on an interim basis as the Fire Chief and John Alonzo will serve as Deputy Chief. The Board will begin its search for a new Fire Chief and is working on that application process to make sure that St. G. Island, owners, residents, and visitors all get the highest quality volunteer fire department and first responder unit.