Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

City councilor fired from Gov. McKee’s office after pro-Palestinian social media posts

After Councilor Miguel Sanchez posted video at pro-Palestinian rally, he was fired from position as staffer Gov. Dan McKee

<p>Ward 6 Councilor Miguel Sanchez uploaded a video of his attendance at a pro-Palestine rally and shared other posts on X advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza.</p><p>Courtesy of Providence City Council</p>

Ward 6 Councilor Miguel Sanchez uploaded a video of his attendance at a pro-Palestine rally and shared other posts on X advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Courtesy of Providence City Council

Ward 6 Councilman Miguel Sanchez was fired on Oct. 27 from his position as a constituent service associate in Gov. Dan McKee’s office after his pro-ceasefire and pro-Palestine social media posts gained media attention, the Providence Journal reported. These were two separate roles held by Sanchez.

Sanchez began retweeting and sharing posts advocating for a ceasefire on X, formerly known as Twitter, after Israel’s military launched a retaliation in Gaza — involving airstrikes, blockades and a ground invasion — in response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on the country. On Oct. 22, he uploaded a video of his attendance at a pro-Palestine rally the day before. “I just wanted to march with the people, to support them as much as possible, because there really wasn't any support from any local politicians here in Rhode Island,” Sanchez told The Herald.

The following Monday, Sanchez said he was asked by a senior member of Gov. McKee’s staff to “tone it down.” But when the post began receiving media attention from the Providence Journal and other local media outlets, Sanchez said the tension only escalated.

McKee’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comments about Sanchez’s firing.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I met with the senior deputy chief of staff Thursday afternoon,” Sanchez said. “We were having a good conversation; I was apologizing for putting the governor in this situation.”

Sanchez noted that he was never directly asked to take the posts down, but that when he expressed that he did not see the point in deleting them as media outlets had already published the tweets, the governor’s senior staff members were “visibly displeased.”

That Friday, Sanchez said McKee’s chief of staff gave him an ultimatum: He could either resign or they would let him go.

“They brought me back in and said that if I signed a letter of resignation that day, they would pay me another week,” Sanchez said. He added that signing the letter meant he would not be able to speak about what happened.

Without consulting human resources, Sanchez said he did not feel comfortable making that decision yet. 

“The chief of staff looked at me and said since I can’t make that decision, they were gonna make it for me and terminate me,” Sanchez said.

In a statement released Oct. 31, the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island wrote that they had received “a number of inquiries about the legality of Governor McKee’s decision to fire Miguel Sanchez.” The statement added that McKee should clarify how Sanchez’s “personally expressed views compromise the ability of either (of) them to discharge their public duties so as to warrant the sanction of firing.”

Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU of Rhode Island, told The Herald that “there’s no question” that Sanchez was fired due to his social media posts. According to Steven Brown, government agencies have some leeway to limit the First Amendment rights of their employees in cases where their comments “may create a disruption in the workplace.”

But he said that it was “unclear” if Sanchez’s posts created such a disruption. 

No clear line in the First Amendment states what counts as disruption, he added. A cut-and-dry case might be a high-level government employee making comments that confused McKee’s “position in the public eye.” Another would entail comments requiring McKee’s office “to spend all of its time responding to what this person had said.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Adam Greenman, president and CEO of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, told The Rhode Island Current that he took issue with the repetition of the chant “from the river to the sea” heard in Sanchez’s video. “We’d welcome the opportunity to dialogue with Mr. Sanchez and share how our community is feeling,” Greenman wrote to The Herald. “It’s our hope that everyone will take the time to learn more about the war (in Gaza) and condemn the actions of Hamas.”

“We are very, very dismayed by (the firing),” said political scientist Thea Riofrancos, who spoke on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace R.I. “I want to use very strong language because I think there are so many problems that it poses. From a strictly labor perspective, it’s a completely unjust and retaliatory firing.”

“There’s a general fear of being associated with a pro-Palestinian position, and that people are facing real consequences for saying things that should not be controversial even if one disagrees with them,” she added.

Still, Sanchez noted that since his firing, he feels “more liberated” and that he doesn’t have to “walk a gray line.” He hopes to use the firing and the media attention it has received to “get my message out there and keep speaking on what I believe is right and wrong.”

Get The Herald delivered to your inbox daily.

Maya Nelson

Maya Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer covering the undergraduate student life beat. She’s interested in studying either English or literary arts and loves to read anything sci-fi/fantasy in her free time. She also enjoys playing guitar, crocheting and spending an unreasonable amount of time on NYT Spelling Bee.



Popular


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.