Activist Reportedly Fired After The Posting Of Videotape Of Her Stomping On American Flag

erica-walker2-701x467There is another story of an employee fired over her exercise of free speech in her private life. The speech itself is vile and upsetting. Erica Walker is a radical activist associated with the the New Black Panthers Party and extremist Eric Sheppard Jr. Sheppard is on the run after organizing a protest at Valdosta State University Campus in Georgia where he stomped on an American flag. A gun was found in his backpack and he is wanted by the police. Walker has staged her own protests in walking on the flag. However, after she was identified, her employer, 1380 WAOK The Voice of the Community, reportedly fired her. As we have previously discussed, there is a trend where private and public employees are being disciplined or terminated for their exercise of private speech. There is no indication that Walker associated her disgraceful action with 1380 WAOK The Voice of the Community.


Walker reportedly has a Facebook page filled with anti-White and racist statements. After a video of Walker stomping on the American flag was posted on social media. The video was picked up by many who denounced her for her accepting the “challenge” of Sheppard to stomp on the flag:

A reporter from the Ocala Post contacted her employer, 1380 WAOK The Voice of the Community, and asked if Walker would be disciplined for her actions. The organization later released a statement that “We appreciate your thoughts on this matter and taking the time to share them with us. Please note that Erica Walker is no longer with the station.”

Facebook also took down the images after it said that “We found that the material on Walker’s pages violated community standards, therefore we removed it.” That is a troubling decision based on the content of her views. The Supreme Court has reaffirmed the constitutional right to burn the American flag. Yet, Facebook took down images of someone exercising that right. Facebook later reinstated the account.

There is another even more disturbing site related to the “FukyoFlag” movement where activists desecrate the flag, including using the flag to wipe themselves. The photos are disgusting and infuriating. However, that does not alter the free speech question. This is protected speech. That does not mean that we cannot join in denouncing these people and their hateful, disrespectful messages. Yet, the solution to such bad speech is more speech, not sanctions like those we see on the rise in Europe.

The termination of people for their speech or associations outside of the workplace raised the “Little Brother” problem that we previously discussed. This is not government action under the first amendment but private actors terminating employees who may prove to be an embarrassment to their organization or customers or donors. With the advent of social media, however, employees are under far greater scrutiny, even those who do not actively seek notoriety. Where to draw a line is the difficult question in such cases. This organization (if it did in fact fire Walker) has a right to protect itself from scandals caused by employees. Yet, one can easily imagine a wide array of more modest political associations (even a simple affiliation with a party) or support for a cause could be cited as unacceptable.

What do you think?

56 thoughts on “Activist Reportedly Fired After The Posting Of Videotape Of Her Stomping On American Flag”

  1. I remember checking out her page when the whole uttbey wiping thing was going on. In one of her posts she used the fact that she was on the radio as an appeal to her own authority, making a direct association between her idiocy and the radio station, and opening the door for them to boot her through.

  2. On the one hand, I do not think businesses should spy on their employees, and fire them for what they say in a bar, or in private.

    On the other hand, if her FB page was open to the public, and she proclaims herself a racist who desecrates the American Flag, then that can severely impact her employer. A company can go out of business if it loses customers to a boycott. Having an employee who is bigoted against a large proportion of it listeners (white people and people of any color who honor the flag), and whose antics are all over the news, could drive them off the air.

    I do think that the bar should be set pretty high for an employee’s private speech to affect employment. I think it has to have been made public, and affect a company’s ability to operate or threaten its brand.

    VietVet – I think a lot of people, including Socialists, would benefit from visiting Cuba. I recently listened to an account of a radio broadcaster’s visit to Cuba. Everyone in Cuba gets a $20 monthly stipend, regardless of their job. The government keeps every dime they make other than that, to pay for “free” health care and nursing home care. Home ownership froze 60 years ago. Whatever house your family owned back then is what it still owns now, with all the generations jammed in. You cannot sell your house, but you can trade it. Obviously, you will be unable to trade your small house that all your descendants have outgrown for a larger one. Who would make that trade? Since they only make $20/month, no one has any money to renovate their homes, so everything’s falling apart. Families are kept afloat by the money that all the defectors send back home. Dissent is not allowed.

    It’s really sad. These people ceded all control of their finances and freedom over to the government. Everyone’s financially equal, and equally poor. It’s no way to live.

  3. If she was an “at will” employee, then the employer can legally fire her for no reason, or any reason at all. There need be no discussion of “cause,” or whether or not the specified cause is sufficient to warrant firing. I’m sure Mr Turley knows this.

    1. Malcolm, there’s no question of whether it was an at will or a right to work state. I believe in the right to work, and that discharge should be for cause only, unless the employer is financially unable to maintain the employee or a contract provision allows discharge for specific reasons.

  4. Steve when one works for a company that is dependent on the public than the response view of the public does dictate that one will and should face certain repercussions for their actions.

    If people stopped listening to the station, if advertising revenue went down, if they couldn’t attract the top talent they were getting before than it only makes sense that one would face consequences.

    This would go for any business. If your employment starts costing the employer money than you should face repercussions.

    I am a HUGE advocate of freedom of speech but you know very well that this has zero to do with free speech. IF she was arrested for stomping on the flag then you’d be right. However

    “Congress shall make no law […] or abridging the freedom of speech”

    does in no way mean you are exempt from consequences from private individuals for your actions

    1. Bernard: Thanks for your post. My position is that people should be able to do and act as they want outside the workplace unless employment is expressly conditioned on certain behavior during non-working hours.

      I believe that employers are not lords over their servants, unless the servant agrees to such a relationship.

      1. stevegroen – the station has exercised its free speech right and fired her.

        1. Paul, I don’t know that that’s as much of a free speech issue but more at unprincipled marketing strategy or reverse puffery. That’s what the media is, and it’s certainly worth noting that not all of us subscribe to such gutlessness for the sake of a buck.

          1. steve – they are “The Voice of the Community.” As such, they decided this and she was something they could not agree with. In fact, tolerate. They did not want their ‘community’ to think they tolerated it either. So, they fired her. Defend her, fire her. It’s still a free speech issue.

            1. Paul, the station could have simply disclaimed an employee’s speech outside the workplace. It happens all the time with some stations who view speech as a right of everyone, even employees: “The views of station employees outside the workplace are not to be interpreted as, nor do they constitute, those of [::ahem::] 1380 WAOK The Voice of the Community.”

              1. steve – stations do that for editorials, etc. Not for demonstrations like this one.

  5. Paul, the Medal of Honor winner, twice, was Major General Smedley Butler who served in the Marines for 33 years. Butler received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions. He served all over the world and considered the US military to be the thugs for corporations and the banks. .

    1. bettykath – an yet your highly decorated never thought to quit this racket he was participating in? Or was he just so dim-witted that it took him all those years to come to the realization?

  6. A country which sends its youth to be killed in a war should be sure that the war is justified. The word “justified” does not mean some lame brain thing like “stopping the domino effect” or “making the world safe for democracy”.
    America has all sorts of families who wish to raise their kids and put them in the army to go off and fight the wars. It is a wish based on glory. Those fathers and mothers need to be shot.

    1. Elmer Fudd – I am sure your memory has fogged, however we used to have a universal draft and it didn’t matter how you raised your kids, they were on their way.

  7. What some commentators are not recognizing is that the First Amendment restrains the federal government, not private businesses. It reads: “CONGRESS shall make no law….abridging the freedom of speech.” Congress did not pass a law firing this woman; a private company decided it no longer wished to employ her.

  8. Maybe it’s simply time that employers start standing up for free speech and saying things like:
    “While we are personally appalled at Ms. so-and-so’s behavior, we LOVE and RESPECT the Constitution of the United States and support her right to free speech. This company in no way supports or condones her actions or words but we support her right to say them.

    Just like companies in Mississippi, Indiana, North Carolina etc. are speaking out against the “free to be a bigot because I’m a Christian” laws that these states are passing.

  9. Bettykath, if by “country” you mean the US government, what in the world is the gov’t supposed to do? Pass a law prohibiting every employer from ever firing an employee for any act of “free speech”? Talk about Pandora’s box.

  10. I am with Tin, Olly, Bernard, and Paul. I don’t think this is a close question. I think the flaw in JT’s analysis is the assumption that “There is no indication that Walker associated her disgraceful action with 1380 WAOK The Voice of the Community.” All actions of an employee are “associated” with his/her employer merely by being employed there – especially when it is brought to the employer’s attention. The employer not taking action would be akin to endorsing this particular employee’s speech, or at least could be viewed that way by the public, which could hurt its business.

    Why should the employer not be able to choose whether this particular expression of free speech is something it wants to be “associated” with?

  11. What country worth a damn hasn’t had to “send its young yo kill or be killed.” It’s a nasty world. If people like the hand wringer bettykath prevailed, we would all be speaking German.

    1. Nick writes, “What country worth a damn hasn’t had to “send its young yo kill or be killed.” It’s a nasty world. If people like the hand wringer bettykath prevailed, we would all be speaking German.”

      That’s not the issue with regard to war. The issue is why they’re being sent. It’s a nasty world is brainwashing from the one-percenters and the media which aspires to be one of them.

      Who said war is a racket? A double medal of honor winning former Marine. Refute that, Nickster.

      1. stevegroen – that someone wins the Medal of Honor twice does not make him an expert on strategy. He is no more an expert on whether war is a racket than I am.

        1. Paul writes, “stevegroen – that someone wins the Medal of Honor twice does not make him an expert on strategy. He is no more an expert on whether war is a racket than I am.”

          Could he have had personal knowledge of why certain violent actions were taken, the strategy and tactics involved, and factual outcomes, that you and I would not have had?

          Think banana and rice republics then and since then and the tragic use of our military against those whose land has been acquired by force for US and allied business interests.

          Paul, the bigger problem goes something like this:

          Our economy is much weaker than we think because the US dollar per se is valueless => this country’s superwealthy who control our government (I’ll call them the one percent) need a way to maintain both their fortunes and the status quo => the US dollar must be propped up by some collateral so that international traders will accept it rather than trading in other more valuable currencies, but unfortunately there isn’t anything acceptable as security outside the US => the industrial age is still within the combustion energy area and all countries need oil, so the US strategy is to control the oil fields and the US dollar as its trading currency => meanwhile, the Fed keeps printing and flooding the marketplace with the valueless US dollar, and we are left in a dreamlike state here at home, waiting for the next Super Bowl Sunday => when any of the oil producing states seeks to use another currency for trading oil, the one percent order war and all of the patriotism and yellow journalism propaganda accompanying it => we invade, we bomb => Americans continue in their calm, submissive stupor => the sovereigns invaded and bombed resist and are slaughtered, all so that the US dollar stays relevant and the status quo is maintained.

          The bottom line: Our military has replaced gold bullion as security for the US dollar. War is a racket.

          No, wait! No red-blooded American would do such a thing? If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re probably right. Only a blue blood or blue-blood wannabe would sell his or her soul. Ayn Rand, are you listening down there?

  12. Those of us who are level headed understand that this is free speech. I don’t like it. But this is what makes us what we are. It’s not illegal to make an ass out of yourself. The court room of public opinion takes over from here.

  13. A country that sends its young to kill and be killed or maimed and one that claims to support the exercise of free speech but doesn’t protect those who say unpopular things, doesn’t deserve to have its flag respected.

  14. Walker was obviously well known to the public either as an on air person or other way which made her easily IDed as an employee of the station. I doubt she was a janitor there or a secretary. If she were in those kinds of job, then I would agree that her termination was wrong and a violation of her rights. Absent that, there is a common sense rule that if you are well known as a representative or employee of a company, that you should not act in any way that would cause the public to dislike or not patronize the company. Since I dealt with the public in my job, I made damn sure that I did not let my personal political ideas or religious beliefs into the performance of my job. Doing so would be an abuse of my power as a captain and is unacceptable.

    Prof Turley is correct in saying that there is a fine line in cases like this. I would suggest that common sense be used in such cases. If a person is a public personality being paid by a station, or a football player, then they should know that their job is dependent on the good will of the public and doing anything that damages that, will result in termination. Simple.

  15. And she should have been.Free “speech” is one thing — speech is sound — stomping on the flag is not speech — there is no sound there !!!

    From: JONATHAN TURLEY To: jimkuden@sbcglobal.net Sent: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 9:21 PM Subject: [New post] Activist Reportedly Fired After The Posting Of Videotape Of Her Stomping On American Flag #yiv2885740125 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2885740125 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2885740125 a.yiv2885740125primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2885740125 a.yiv2885740125primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2885740125 a.yiv2885740125primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2885740125 a.yiv2885740125primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2885740125 WordPress.com | jonathanturley posted: “There is another story of an employee fired over her exercise of free speech in her private life. The speech itself is vile and upsetting. Erica Walker is a radical activist associated with the the New Black Panthers Party and extremist Eric Sheppard Jr” | |

  16. Fame, Fame bo bame!
    Banana fanna fo bam!
    Fee fi mo name!

    Whats your name?
    Ann bam fo fam, fanna fo name.

  17. She’s getting more than her 15 minutes of fame. And Tin, good comment.

  18. Steve,

    Nice strawman. No one said that the U.S. government “for which the flag stands” is exempt from criticism. The question on the table is about a private company terminating her for her actions. She has every right to engage in the conduct Professor Turley described above. But that does not mean that there are not consequences for her actions.

    You also said: ““disgraceful action”? There is no mention of the basis for her walking on the US flag, so I think it’s a bit premature to characterize Ms. Walker’s action as “disgraceful,” especially when one endorses the notion of free speech.” I certainly endorse the notion of free speech. You can say whatever you want. And I can characterize your speech however I want. Something tells me if a white guy was terminated for shouting n___er on a street corner, you’d have no problem labeling it “disgraceful.”

    So why don’t you run off to your safe space and spare us your liberal holy-roller crap.

    1. Joe: I was simply commenting on the adjective “disgraceful,” not that she was fired. But because I appear to have not contributed my thoughts on her discharge, here you go: what she does on her own time, unless it’s expressed in her employment contract, e.g., that she cannot make political statements that would reasonably be susceptible to public controversy, is and should be free from employer retaliation.

      I hope that doesn’t disturb the one-percenters who supply your Kool-Aid.

  19. “disgraceful action”? There is no mention of the basis for her walking on the US flag, so I think it’s a bit premature to characterize Ms. Walker’s action as “disgraceful,” especially when one endorses the notion of free speech. The US government for which the flag stands is not exempt from criticism in this manner, lest one drinks the Kool-Aid. It’s just a flag, so spare me the holy-roller patriotic crap.

  20. If people hate where they live why not just leave? Cuba and Venezuela would be a great place for someone like this woman. She could connect with Joanne Chesimard and they could stand around on the Cuban flag, not. This might simplify things but if you owned a home and didn’t like the neighborhood or the local government for whatever reason you would move?

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