ATLANTA – Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday that he will 'separate' Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran from the department. The Chief was terminated just after noon, Reed said.
The announcement came as Cochran scheduled to return to work following a one-month suspension.
The mayor suspended Cochran in November because of a passage about homosexuality in a book he wrote.
"This is about judgement" Mayor Kasim Reed stated during the news conference Tuesday. "This is not about religious freedom, this is not about free speech" Reed said. "Judgement is the basis of the problem" Reed commented.
Cochran said during a press conference Tuesday that he had obtained permission to lend his name and title to the book. He said he only gave the book as a gift to three people who he said he had not already established a religious relationship with in the department. He said he wanted to emphasize that his spiritual beliefs do not equate to hate.
Cochran was suspended for a month on November 24 after city officials stated he violated policy by self-publishing his 2013 book, "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" which describes homosexuality as “a perversion”. The book also made strong statements towards the treatment of women, Reed noted.
The policy violation may also have included Cochran's giving copies of the paperback to some co-workers. "I want everyone who works in the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department to feel welcome" Reed said during the conference.
In a Nov. 24 statement, Mayor Reed said he was "deeply disturbed" after learning about the book and that he will not tolerate discrimination within his administration. Reed said he was bombarded with strongly worded email, calls, and messages to his family about the suspension.