Earlier this week, Denise Helms, a 22 year old woman from Turlock, wrote a Facebook post using a racial slur to describe President Barack Obama and mentioned the possibility of the President getting assassinated. Not only were the comments reported to the United States Secret Service, but they also went viral on the internet.
“Another 4 years of this (N-word),” Denise Helms wrote on her Facebook. “Maybe he will get assassinated this term!”
Regarding the mention of the President’s assassination, USSS Spokesperson Brian Leary said, “People have the right to free speech. We also have the right and an obligation to determine a person’s intent when they say something.”
Should the US Secret Service consider Helms a credible threat, she would face a Class D felony charge.
“Any time we receive information we have to make an assessment on things like veracity and/or urgency while also considering context and dangerousness,” stated Leary. “Once the assessment is made, the appropriate follow up has to be determined.
The incident involving the mention of the President’s assassination and the racial slur has received a mixed reaction from the local community, while also triggering responses from her local employer, the corporate company of the business she was working for at the time, along with City officials.
Cold Stone Creamery in Turlock, where Denise Helms worked until just recently, fired her after she did an interview with Fox40 (watch the video here) and the business started receiving many calls while also dealing with a hostile work environment.
“She is definitely not employed here anymore,” stated Cold Stone Creamery Store Manager Chris Kegle. “We had not a clue about any of that until Fox40 did the report, and we instantly fired her for it.”
Cold Stone Creamery’s corporate twitter stated multiple times that the employee no longer worked with the company in Turlock.
“The employee is no longer with the company,” stated Cold Stone Creamery. “We were as shocked as you were by her outrageous and completely unacceptable comments.”
The company also stated that her views did not reflect the views of the company.
Steven Nascimento, who was elected to the Turlock City Council on Tuesday evening, also responded to the incident.
“I was shocked when I learned that these comments had come from a Turlock resident,” stated Council Elect Steven Nascimento. “I found her statements and casual attitude toward the situation to be reprehensible. Such hate and ignorance have no place in our community.”
Turlock Mayor John Lazar also issued a press release on the matter.
“A fundamental reason for the strength of our nation is the election process,” stated Lazar. “While campaigns are often filled with emotional issues and strongly stated positions, after the votes are counted we are all responsible to support the will of the people. This is certainly the value that the vast majority of the citizens of Turlock exhibit. We are grateful for those who are willing to serve in elected office and we support them in their critical elected roles at every level of government.”
While Denise Helms has not agreed to conduct an interview with TurlockCityNews.com regarding the situation, she did make comments to the Turlock City News.com Facebook page shortly after the incident was reported. She has since deactivated her Facebook account.
“I wanna clear up some things…I apologize for offending you guys or anyone. But you really don’t know me or the whole situation,” wrote Helms. “I took down the post within 2 hours of posting it because I realized how wrong it was. I may not be a fan of Obama and should have worded my opinion differently. I’m not a bad person.”
The Turlock City News.com Facebook posts regarding the incident has received over 300 comments, both in support (mostly regarding her right to freedom of speech) and in opposition, of Helms’ comments. Many comments have been deleted while many more could be perceived to be just as harmful to someone as Helms’ comments were to the President.
While the local community discusses the incident in relation to the representation of Turlock, Helms’ comments went viral on the internet. After first being reported on Fox40, then TurlockCityNews.com, the story has been spread all over the internet including making it onto the top of the most popular stories on The Huffington Post website.