Friday, December 13, 2013
By Michael Rubinkam / The Associated Press
GILBERTON, Pa. — Police Chief Mark Kessler expects to be fired for posting incendiary videos in which he ranted obscenely about the Second Amendment and liberals while spraying machine-gun fire with borough-owned weapons.
Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler, center, talks with members of the Constitutional Security Force before a Gilberton Borough Council meeting in this July 31, 2013, photo.
But Kessler, whose pro-gun videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views online, has no intention of going away quietly.
With an Internet radio show, speaking invitations to gun rallies around the country, and a newly formed "Constitution Security Force" that he claims already has chapters in 45 states, the 41-year-old coal miner-turned-cop said his message — that the federal government is too big, too powerful and wants to grab guns — is resonating with a segment of the public that believes as he does.
"The support has been overwhelming, both national and international," he said. "I find it truly amazing how many people finally said, 'You know what? This guy's right.'"
Friday is the last day of Kessler's 30-day suspension over what the Gilberton council has said was unauthorized use of the weapons. The council could decide his fate Friday night.
But if Kessler's worried about losing job, he's not showing it.
"If that's the price I got to pay for standing up for what I believe in, apparently for what a lot of Americans believe in, I'm willing to pay that price," said Kessler, speaking to The Associated Press at a gun range near Gilberton in northeast Pennsylvania.
If anything, his rhetoric has grown even more menacing.
This week, Kessler posted another potty-mouthed video in which he displayed paper targets with scary-looking clowns on them, dubbed "Eric" and "Danny." Those happen to be the first names of Council President Daniel Malloy and Vice President Eric Boxer, whom he has attacked on his website.
Patting an assault rifle, Kessler said, "This is the friend that Eric's going to meet today." After firing a volley at the target, he said, "Eric got a couple rounds to the head."
In an earlier video, Kessler savaged Secretary of State John Kerry as a "traitor" over a U.S.-backed international arms treaty. "COME AND TAKE IT!" he screamed, firing a machine gun.
Kessler said he posted that video and others like it partly out of frustration, and partly in an effort to get people to pay attention to an issue he holds dear: The erosion of Second Amendment and other constitutional rights.
"It was shock and awe," he said. "I could have went out there and did a nice video . and nobody would've gave it a second look."
Now that he's achieved a measure of notoriety for his obscenity-filled rants against government tyranny and people he calls "libtards," Kessler said he worries the federal government will try to silence him. He predicted chaos if that happens.
"God help them if something should happen to me," he said. "I believe that could spark the next American Revolution."
Kessler insisted he's "not calling for anybody to take up arms against our government."
But he also warned the government would be in a fight if it ever tried to take away his guns.
"I would resist," he said. "I'd fight for freedom, and if it cost me my life, then so be it."
The FBI said it's aware of the police chief and his videos.
Kessler said he decided to speak out after the administration of President Barack Obama began a push for new gun laws in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Most Gilberton residents approached by the AP this week declined to speak on the record.
But some, like Bill Yohn, said it's hard to reconcile the lawman they know with the profane, provocative figure on the videos.
"If I had a problem, he was quick to come," Yohn said. "He was completely different from how he appeared on the videos. It was like night and day."
Kessler, who is married with four children and two grandchildren, acknowledged how the videos portray him.
"I kind of look scary," he said. "I've been labeled the scariest police chief in the country."