An administrator for Community Health Northwest Florida was fired Friday after multiple racist Facebook posts attributed to her page came to light.
Connie Chastain Bednar was an administrator and HIPAA Privacy Office according to her LinkedIn page. Screenshots from Bednar’s personal Facebook page started circulating Thursday night. In a statement on the Community Health Northwest Florida Facebook page Friday morning, the organization stated Bednar was terminated without naming her.
“Late yesterday, June 4th, it was brought to our attention that one of our now terminated employees had posted hateful and offensive rhetoric to her personal social media page.
These statements do not reflect the values and mission of Community Health Northwest Florida and its leadership. In addition to being in direct contradiction to our mission, these posts also violated our organization’s policies. We do not tolerate any form of hate or discrimination and will not tolerate any behavior that goes against our core values.
“We prematurely replied to Facebook comments this morning, June 5th, regarding these posts before having a full understanding of the circumstances surrounding them, as the employee had posted that her account had been hacked. Upon further investigation, we do not believe that this is the case. We have terminated the employment of this individual and will continue to have a zero tolerance of this type of behavior.”
On April 12, Bednar posted a photo of a noose with words “If we want to make America great again we have to make evil people fear punishment again.” On May 31, she wrote “I hear on the news that ‘protestors’ will be going to rural areas next. This is amusing to me … as those ‘protestors’ bodies will never be found.”
And in a post from Thursday morning she wrote she was “sick of this minority crap” asking if African Americans “just got off a boat from Namibia.”
"Why not simply 'American?' If we're gonna play that race card, then stop calling me a white girl. Make an ethnic box for 'French-American' for me. Sure, I've never been to France and my people haven't for over 250 years, but I'm rolling with the status quo here.
"I also think somebody hurt my great great great great great great great grandma's feelings once, so I'll need reparations for that egregious act as well," the post continued.
Ann Papadelias, chief community engagement officer at Community Health Northwest Florida said the organization has a “very strict” social media policy and that the posts in question are in “direct opposition of what our organization was built on.”
Papadelias said she could not comment on Bednar’s position nor how long she worked at Community Health.
This news follows a screenshot of a Snapchat conversation between UWF students that was shared online. In the conversation, one student says the death of George Floyd would not have received national attention if he was any other race. In another message the student says “black people just have a worst past in America and they like milking that (redacted) I know wat (sic) more Mexican ppl that go through way worse.”
In reviewing the post, Dean of Students Dr. Brandon Frye, said while the comments made were “disturbing,” they did not meet the threshold of violating the university’s code of conduct. No direct threat of violence was made.
“As a public institution, we are legally required to uphold the first amendment,” he said. “We’re committed to the principles of free speech.”
As part of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, UWF could not share the identity of the student, but Frye did say the student was a member of the UWF Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. In a post on Instagram, the fraternity stated the group message was under fraternity judicial review and the member in question is facing “severe disciplinary action.”
These comments come after more than a week of protests in Pensacola — and across the world — against systemic racism and police brutality.
The posts are also a lesson that social media is never private. And it can come with consequences.
“Social media gives everyone a voice, but not everyone knows how to use it,” said Dr. Willie Tubbs, assistant professor of communication at UWF. “People who vent their spleen in on hot-button issues risk far worse than temporary embarrassment. You have to be ready to suffer the consequences.”