JACKSONVILLE, Fla. â€“ A quiet Friday night on the couch between a now-former Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees member and his wife went awry when a private conversation was broadcast to hundreds.
While Scott Bethmann, 63, and his wife, Nancy, were watching the news, they started discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, making racist comments and using slurs in a video that was accidentally streamed on Facebook Live.
Bethmann resigned from his position with the alumni association. He had served on the board of a chapter in Jacksonville.
â€œSomehow I clicked onto some live event,â€ Bethmann says in the video, which went viral.
In video reviewed by the Florida Times-Union of the USA TODAY Network, Bethmann Â talks about how large companies such as Citi Bank came out with statements denouncing racism and showing solidarity withÂ the Black Lives Matter movement.
â€œIâ€™ve got the emails about how weâ€™re supporting and we need to fix this problem, [expletive] you,â€ he says in the video. â€œSo all the white people have to say something nice to the black [expletive] that works in the office. But the black [expletive] donâ€™t get fired. Itâ€™s [expletive]. Managementâ€™s going to fire the white people.â€
The pair discussed how minority groups, particularly women, in the military were going to â€œsteal our intellectual property.â€
By the end of the 33-minute accidental stream, which mostly shows a black screen, Bethmann realized he was live and pointing the camera at his cream colored couch. He starts readingÂ comments aloud and asks, â€œWhat are they talking about?â€ before muttering, â€œOopsâ€ and cutting the feed.
His Facebook page has been taken down entirely.
Screen recordings of the video were taken Friday night before Bethmannâ€™s page was scrubbed.
Naval Academy responds
â€œScott has resigned as a local board member locally and nationally,â€ said Caleb Cronic, the USNA Alumni Association Jacksonville chapter president.
Cronic confirmed Bethmann was disenrolled as a member of the alumni association.
â€œThese attributed statements do not represent the mission and values of the Alumni Association, the Naval Academy or the U.S. Navy,â€ Retired Adm. Samuel Locklear said in a statement. â€œAs volunteer leaders in our communities, we must be inspirations and examples for all citizens. As Chairman of our Alumni Association, I have accepted the resignation of this alumnus effective today, and asked the Jacksonville, FL, chapter to take appropriate action to appoint a new Chapter Trustee.â€
Locklear said the alumni association represents â€œmore than 65,000 individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.â€
â€œWe support the Naval Academy mission. As alumni, we seek to uphold the Naval Academy core leadership values of honor, courage and commitment,â€ he said. â€œAs an alumni organization, we seek to be an inspiration for all young people who want to become future Navy and Marine Corps officers. We will continue to honor that inspirational role. We are all in this together. We must face the challenges of today and all future challenges of tomorrow … together.â€
â€œAs individuals, as Sailors, and as a Navy, we cannot tolerate racism of any kind,â€ Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement emailed to the Times-Union. â€œWe must actively speak out against it. And when it rears its ugly head, we must take decisive action.â€
After the Times-Unionâ€™s initial story was published, a spokesman with the Atlantic Beach Country Club confirmed Bethmannâ€™s status as a member would be rescinded.
â€œBe assured we find these comments extremely offensive, inflammatory and antithetical to what this Club stands for and represents,â€ a statement from the country club said. â€œAs such, we have voted today to immediately expel this member and his family from the Club.â€
The statement said the clubâ€™s directors â€œcondemn any racist, bigoted and demeaning behaviorâ€ and areÂ committed to protecting â€œan inclusionary staff and membership where respect and dignity are openly represented.â€
Despite multiple attempts â€“ including one when the phone was answered and immediately hung up â€“ Bethmann could not be reached for comment.
After the Times-Union and First Coast News published stories about the incident, Bethmann and his wife released a statement via their spokeswoman, Ryan Wiggins.
â€œThis is the only statement that will be released from the family,â€ Wiggins said in an email. SheÂ provided a photo of the couple for publication.
Below is the familyâ€™s full statement:
â€œThere are no words that can appropriately express how mortified and apologetic my wife and I are about the insensitive things we said that were captured on social media. There is never a time when it is appropriate to use derogatory terms when speaking about our fellow man. I know that an apology from us rings hollow on many ears in our community, especially in the current environment. We intend on using this experience as an opportunity to grow, listen, learn, and reflect. We are deeply sorry for the impact our actions have had on the Naval Academy, my fellow servicemen and women, our former colleagues, friends, family, and the community as a whole. We are committed to educating ourselves more on the racial inequalities in this country and being better people.â€
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