A photographer snapped an image of a gas and electric worker in his company pickup with his arm hanging out the window. Unfortunately, the image would result in his immediate termination all because of an allegedly “racist” gesture.
While Emmanuel Cafferty was heading about his business in a San Diego Gas and Electric truck, he came across a gathering of protesters in Poway, California. The protesters had rallied on the roadway, forcing the blue-collar worker to slow down as he drove past them.
As he crept by the gathering, Cafferty put his arm out of the window of his company truck and maneuvered through the crowd. Just before he made his way through the protest, another driver managed to snap a picture that would change his life for the worse.
According to The Blaze, the photographer posted the freeze-frame to social media with the accusation that Cafferty was making a “white power” hand gesture to the protesters, which, until recently, was considered to be the “OK” symbol of approval. Within seconds, Cafferty was smeared across the internet as a white supremacist and racist.
The original tweet said, “[J]ust passed a bunch of kids walking on the sidewalk holding BLM signs, honked to say I am with them and this guy in the #SDGE truck pulls along side and flashes this at me for the next couple blocks.”
Immediately following the incident, Cafferty was called by his supervisor, who informed the shocked employee that he was to be suspended and likely further disciplined pending an investigation. A few days later, he was fired over the still image for alleged racist conduct, KNDS-TV reports.
“When my supervisor said that I was being accused of doing a white supremacist gesture, that was baffling,” Cafferty said.
Cafferty was left in complete shock over the swift turn of events, especially since he says it was all a huge misunderstanding. He claims that he was merely cracking his knuckles when the photo was taken, which he says he does routinely without even thinking.
“I do that a lot when I’m driving,” he said. “It has no racist intent behind it. It’s scary that you can be charged, tried, and convicted on social media without your permission, without no corroborating evidence of any type,” he said.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get over this,” he told the station, “but to lose your dream job for playing with your fingers, that’s a hard pill to swallow.”
Cafferty has been denounced as a white supremacist but reiterates that he is a Mexican-American whose family involves a mixture of races. He vehemently denies the accusations of racism against him and has pleaded to be reinstated at his job. However, SDG&E doubled down on its decision to terminate him.
SDG&E said in a statement, “We hold all SDG&E employees to a high standard and expect them to live up to our values every day. We conducted a good faith and thorough investigation that included gathering relevant information and multiple interviews, and took appropriate action.”
However, not only did Cafferty clarify that the only other interview the company conducted was with his accuser, but the original Twitter accuser has since deleted his post from social media and walked back his allegation. The accuser told reporters that he may have gotten “spun up” about the situation and mistook the gesture for a racist sign. He also admitted that he didn’t intend for Cafferty to lose his job.
In the wake of SDG&E’s decision, a petition was launched to call for the company to reinstate Cafferty. Unfortunately, the company once again insisted that it had made the right choice in firing Cafferty.
“SDG&E employees are held to a high standard and are expected to live up to our values every day, whether in interactions with fellow employees or the public. We conducted a good faith and thorough investigation that included gathering relevant information and multiple interviews, and took action in line with those values. While we are not able to reveal the full circumstances surrounding our investigation and Mr. Cafferty’s separation from the Company, we stand by our decision and will not be commenting any further.”
Cafferty lost the job of his dreams and had his reputation damaged for being labeled a white supremacist. Disturbingly, cancel culture has ruined the life of a working-class individual over a simple snapshot that was apparently misinterpreted.
The fact of the matter is that what happened to Cafferty could easily happen to anyone of us. Our jobs, reputations, and livelihoods are on the line daily thanks to the internet mob that takes no issue in devouring innocent people at the mere suggestion of racism.