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Library worker accused of burning conservative books

December 5, 2020 GMT

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A Chattanooga Public Library employee who has helped organize protests against police brutality was placed on leave this week after he was accused of burning library books by conservative authors.

Library spokeswoman Christina Sacco told the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Friday that library services coordinator Cameron Williams has been placed on administrative leave for the next five business days while the library investigates the allegations.

In a video posted briefly on Instagram on Tuesday, Williams burns copies of conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)” and President Donald Trump’s “Crippled America” in an outdoor fire, spraying each with lighter fluid. “FDT,” a Trump protest song by YG and Nipsey Hussle, plays in the background.

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Sacco said library officials were also told of an earlier video with more books.

Williams did not answer the newspaper’s question of whether he burned any library materials, but he said he did not break any library rules.

“I have no idea why I’m on leave because my supervisor and city of Chattanooga HR have not told me the reason why,” he said Friday. “The only information that was given is because there was a complaint of me removing items from the library. I’ve never removed items from the library, without permission, and without following proper protocol.”

“Whatever I do on my personal time is my personal time,” he added.

According to Sacco, Williams had been recently trained on the library’s “weeding” policy, which describes how and when to remove books from circulation, but the books in the video were not flagged for removal. She also said that person feelings have no place in deciding what materials are removed and any bias in those decisions violates library policy.

“It’s our job to ensure that all walks of life have access to information without judgment or prejudice,” Sacco said. “Whether these materials were actually destroyed in a fire or even if they were just removed, that does go against our policy. Because at the end of the day, we believe that censorship has no place in a library.”

Williams told the newspaper he assumes that whoever reported the incident is “a racist person” who is trying to “sabotage my well being.

“It’s a perpetuation of white supremacy and racism, and it’s trying to hold back change. But we won’t quit,” he said.

Separately, Williams faces charges of disorderly conduct and blocking a highway from police brutality protests last July.