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Police chief at center of profanity-laced gun video suspended

From Tina Burnside and Brian Vitagliano, CNN
August 9, 2013 -- Updated 1457 GMT (2257 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The council says he used city property without permission
  • "I have no regrets," Kessler says
  • He alleges that some in the council are trying to fire him

(CNN) -- An eastern Pennsylvania police chief who went on profanity-laced video rants against those who disagreed with him on gun laws has been suspended for 30 days without pay.

The punishment wasn't for his diatribe though.

The borough council in the coal town of Gilberton said that police Chief Mark Kessler used "borough property for non-borough purposes without prior borough permission" when he made the video where he's seen shooting semiautomatic and automatic weapons.

Thousands of gun-rights activists descended on the town of 750 for the meeting, openly sporting firearms, CNN affiliate WPMT reported.

"I make no apologies and I have no regrets," a defiant Kessler told the council after its 5-1 vote, according to CNN affiliate WFMZ. He added he would be back "30 days from tonight."

Is police chief 'America's scariest'?
Police chief's pro-gun video goes viral

Soon afterward, Kessler posted a statement on his website saying that Mayor Mary Lou Hannon and two council members -- Eric Boxer and Daniel Malloy -- "are conspiring behind closed doors for full termination. "

"They needed to suspend first to allow themselves time to look for or make up any reason or lie," he said.

Then, he added in all uppercase letters: "HEY BOXER, MALLOY , HANNON, YOU'RE COWARDS, YOU'RE HACKS, YOU PRETEND TO UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION,YOU SICKEN ME !"

For her part, Mayor Hannon said the police chief has her backing.

"He has the right to freedom of speech," she told WPMT. "I am a big supporter of the Constitution."

Kessler posted his videos to YouTube in mid-July.

They went viral, generating a heated online debate that appeared to gain renewed traction last month when he posted a backhanded apology.

Kessler did not respond to repeated requests by CNN for comment, but he told WFMZ at the time that he was not in uniform in the videos and was exercising in his First and Second Amendment rights.

In the videos, Kessler rails against liberals for attempting to curb gun rights and Secretary of State John Kerry over his support of a recent U.N. arms treaty. At one point in the video, he dares Kerry to come and take his guns.

"It wasn't a threat. It was, 'if you want them come and take them,'" Kessler told the television station by telephone.

Kessler has been the town's police chief for 14 years "without a mark against him," Hennon said.

Kessler, an outspoken gun rights advocate, has a history of making provocative statements. He has been featured in a number of online videos discussing his views, given numerous interviews and helped organize gun rights rallies.

The police chief also has claimed in a number of interviews to be the founder of the Constitutional Security Force, a gun rights advocacy group. In the video, Kessler wears a T-shirt with CSF emblazoned on it.

On the CSF Web page, Kessler is identified as the group's president and is featured in his Gilberton police uniform.

The latest videos have been picked up and copied on YouTube, with titles such as "America's scariest police chief" and "Patriot police chief."

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