Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Public safety

Florida man arrested in connection with Charlottesville white supremacist rally is out of a job

A Florida man arrested in connection with a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., is out of a job.

North American Roofing Services, which recently moved its headquarters to Tampa, announced in an internal memo that Jim O'Brien "is no longer with the company." The announcement follows a Tampa Bay Times article with details from O'Brien's blog espousing white nationalist beliefs and encouraging violence against the political left.

The memo, shared with the Times by CEO Kelly Wade, doesn't name O'Brien but instead refers to a "manager." Wade confirmed the memo referred to O'Brien. He formerly worked as the company's director of purchasing and logistics.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: National roofing company moving to Tampa.

"The flurry of published documentation supporting discriminatory beliefs and activity by this Manager has disrupted the business and made it impossible for him to perform his job," the memo states. "Therefore, we have addressed the situation."

O'Brien, 44, declined to comment Tuesday.

Virginia State Police on Saturday announced O'Brien, of Gainesville, was one of three men arrested in connection with a violent white nationalist rally planned to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville's Emancipation Park.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida man among three arrested in connection to white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

O'Brien said his arrest for carrying a concealed handgun was unrelated to the rally and that he received a misdemeanor citation from police.

Saturday's rally, called "Unite the Right" by its organizers, drew droves of counter-protesters. The parties clashed throughout the day, leading the governor to call for a state of emergency. An Ohio man who appeared to be in support of the white nationalist movement drove his car into a crowd, killing a woman who was there to counter-protest, police said.

The statement from North American Roofing goes on to denounce "discriminatory activity of any sort."

"We do not support the extremist activities that were on display in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend or any other similar activity," it says. "We promote a culture of inclusion and diversity."

The memo doesn't mention white nationalism specifically, but Wade said in an interview that company leaders "denounce white supremacy completely."

Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or [email protected] Follow @kathrynvarn.

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