The Washington State Attorney General’s Office fired a senior criminal investigator after he wrote “BLM button = no tip. That’s how socialism works.” on a receipt at a restaurant in Tacoma, Washington. The server at the restaurant alleged the investigator made a scene and did not tip her because she was wearing a Black Lives Matter button.
Investigator Cloyd Steiger also posted a photo of the receipt on his then-public Facebook page, according to Deputy Attorney General Todd Bowers.
Steiger told investigators at the attorney general’s office that he took issue with Black Lives Matter and the movement’s protests. Bowers wrote in Steiger’s termination letter that Steiger compared Black Lives Matter to the Klu Klux Klan and called both hate groups.
Steiger displayed “angry, disrespectful, and disruptive” behavior at the restaurant and later on his Facebook page, according to Bowers. Bowers also said Steiger failed to meet the integrity standards of the office and “undermined the trust of the public and his fellow workers.”
Steiger’s attorney, Steve Fogg, claims his firing violated his First Amendment rights.
“Terminating Cloyd is both a mistake and illegal,” Fogg said in a statement Friday. “The AG is firing Cloyd not because he didn’t do his job (he did it well) and not because he didn’t tip a waitress and raised his voice—if the AG fired people for that sort of private behavior, the ranks of the AG would be thin indeed. The AG fired Cloyd for expressing political opinions as a private citizen with which some members of the AG’s Office disagreed. That is not just illegal, but sets a frightening precedent that we will have no choice but to contest in court.”
Large cities on the West Coast that are close to Tacoma, including Seattle and Portland, have seen consistent, large, Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Protests in Seattle and Portland have more than once turned violent as police officers clashed with protesters.
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