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Pennsylvania town council votes to oust police chief over videos

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A town council in rural Pennsylvania voted on Thursday to dismiss the police chief after profanity-laced videos showing him firing automatic weapons in support of gun rights surfaced on the Internet.

Mark Kessler, a one-man police force in the borough of Gilberton, has been suspended since July 31, when the first video appeared on YouTube.

The council in the town of about 900 people voted 6-1 to fire Kessler. Daniel Malloy Jr., the council president, said Kessler could appeal the action within 10 days, and that a public hearing can be called to review the matter.

Local media reported that Kessler intends to seek a hearing. He remains under suspension.

In one video, Kessler rails against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, calling him a traitor for backing an international treaty to regulate the global arms trade. The video concludes with Kessler firing an automatic weapon aimed at an off-screen target.

"Who is he to decide what we can and can't own?" Kessler says. "Come and take it."

Another video, which was viewed on YouTube 412,420 times, opens with an apology for an earlier video containing profanity.

"Some people didn't like that," Kessler says. "So I'm here to say I'm sorry."

But then he adds: "Yeah, I don't think so. This boy don't roll that way," and opens fire.

His lawyer, Joe Nahas, said the council avoided accusing him of language and gun violations because it did not want to wade into constitutional issues of free speech and the right to bear arms.

Instead, he was accused of violations including unauthorized use of borough property, the guns.

(Editing by Edith Honan and Xavier Briand)

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