FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Dozens of protesters gathered outside Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters Thursday demanding that Sheriff Gregory Tony be fired and deputy Ron Thurston be put back on road patrol.
Thurston, who has been a deputy for 21 years, was stripped of his badge, weapon and patrol car Monday after he criticized the department’s lack of diversity.
“I can’t even dream to tell you how upset I am because of this stupidity,” protester Mark McLamore said.
Chants of “ho ho, Tony must go!” were shouted during the demonstration.
Thurston’s attorney, Johnny McCray Jr., said “it’s widely believed that [Thurston’s removal] is politically motivated. Deputy Thurston is an avid supporter of the immediate predecessor, Sheriff Scott Israel.”
Israel is running against Tony in this year’s election for Broward Sheriff, which Tony’s campaign believes was the reason for this protest.
“Yet again, Scott Israel’s campaign just can’t be honest,” Tony’s campaign said in a statement Thursday. “This was a political event organized by Scott Israel’s paid political consultants, and attended by political opponents of Sheriff Tony and Scott Israel himself.”
Thurston’s lawyer says the Facebook post below is what landed his client in hot water, citing the lack of black leadership in key areas of the agency:
BSO says the post was a violation of the department’s social media policy and that Thurston committed conduct unbecoming of an employee, adding that the department does not condone statements that reflect poorly on the agency.
“Deputy Thurston is a family man. He has children. He has a wife,” McCray said. “And we want to ensure that his livelihood is not taken from him.”
Thurston is well-liked in the community. His friends say that he volunteers on the football field and that he talks to the parents of vulnerable youngsters to help steer them in the right direction.