Protesters want city employee fired

Published: May. 25, 2016 at 6:14 PM EDT
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Dozens of protesters spent hours outside Harrisonburg City Hall on Wednesday, calling for a part-time city employee to be fired.

The protesters, members of Nexus Programs Incorporated, as well as the Harriet Tubman Center, say they plan to protest until action is taken against what they call hate speech in government e-mails.

Nexus obtained emails from Augusta County leaders through a Freedom Of Information Act request. One of the thousands of emails was from Harrisonburg City part-time employee, Gene Ray Ergenbright, who sent an email from his Harrisonburg city email account to someone in Augusta County. According to the lawsuit, Ergenbright also works part-time for Augusta County.

In the e-mail, a Hitler emoji was used when referring to a gay Nexus employee and an African-American employee. Those emails are included in Nexus' lawsuit against Augusta County leaders which alleges a conspiracy against the Valley business.

"We want the commissioner of the revenue to understand that not just our company, but the other community organizations that have joined us are not going to stand and allow this to be swept under the rug, we're not going to stand and allow this employee to continue to behave in the way we have seen him behave in his e-mail," Nexus Programs, Inc. President and CEO Mike Donovan told WHSV.

Of the emails, Donovan said, "We believe that use of emojis or communication that glorify a man that killed tens of millions of people is absolutely inappropriate in any way, and it's certainly inappropriate when it's in government communication."

WHSV reached out to the city for comment on this story. They told us in a statement: "This is a personnel matter that the Harrisonburg Commissioner of Revenue is in the process of investigating and properly addressing, in which no further information regarding any actions taken will be released."