A San Diego man lost his job recently after being accused on social media of making a racist gesture, but he says he was just cracking his knuckles. Now his accuser has backed off and said it might have all be a big mistake.
What in the world happened?
Emmanuel Cafferty lost his job with San Diego Gas and Electric last month after a stranger took a photo of him with his arm hanging out the window of his company pickup while he happened to be near a Black Lives Matter rally. The photographer then posted the image to Twitter, KNSD-TV
The poster accused Cafferty, who is Hispanic, of making a “white power” hand gesture that has been made popular by many white supremacists. The gesture resembles the “OK” sign that includes the thumb and forefinger in a circle and the three other fingers extended.
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.”
Image source: KNSD-TV screenshot
Cafferty told KNSD that he was simply cracking his knuckles.
“I do that a lot when I’m driving,” he said. “It has no racist intent behind it.”
Shortly after the tweet with his image went viral, Cafferty was suspended from his job and told that an investigation was underway. A few days later, SDG&E gave him a pink slip and sent him packing.
Cafferty was flummoxed, telling KNSD, “When my supervisor said that I was being accused of doing a white supremacist gesture, that was baffling.”
“I was confident that I would be able to — with my character — show SDG&E that I’m not a racist,” he added.
“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.
And now Cafferty is despondent.
“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.”
The outlet contacted Cafferty’s original Twitter accuser about the incident. Apparently he has since realized that he may have ruined an innocent man’s life.
The accuser has not only deleted the original post — he has deleted his entire Twitter account. And he told reporters that it’s possible he just got “spun up” about the situation and misinterpreted Cafferty’s motions. He added that he never intended for Caffery to get canned.
SDG&E released a statement, KNSD reported, saying: “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.”