A celebrated Cajun musician for several days has been busy explaining his social media postings, some of which have been perceived as inflammatory and racially insensitive.
Jamie Bergeron of Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns, a successful recording group with at least seven albums and a successful touring, nightclub and festival schedule, is under public criticism, accused of posting things that include a cartoon of a vehicle hitting protesters in a roadway under the heading, “All Lives Splatter.” Another post suggested “my brakes have been acting up” when referencing people who protest in the roadways.
Bergeron’s problems may extend from his musical career to his day job. A “screen grab” of an account said to be Bergeron’s has a photo of Bergeron in his Acadian Ambulance uniform — he’s worked as a first responder and paramedic there for some 30 years — posted with the images cited above and Acadian Ambulance and Bergeron have posted apologies about his social media account’s content. The posts in the screen grab ID the source as “jamiebergeron1.”
Yes, Black Lives Matter.
Randall Mann, Acadian Ambulance spokesman, said the company has a social media policy that extends to employees’ personal accounts if they ID themselves as Acadiana Companies employees. He said violations of the policy can lead to discipline “up to termination.”
“We have terminated people in the past. In Jamie’s case, he’s taken everything down,” Mann said, but he added that the company has been fielding calls from people demanding Bergeron’s dismissal.
“I handled a call this morning and a few last week,” Mann said.
Mann said the situation is being handled at the highest levels of the company, including from Acadian Ambulance founder and CEO Richard Zuschlag.
In an issued statement, the company said:
“We do not condone, and will not tolerate, any behavior by our employees that is racist or discriminatory in any way. Acadian’s motto, Knowing Life Matters, is more than a slogan, it is a dedication and commitment to caring for all of the people in the communities we are entrusted to serve. As a company — and as a tapestry of 4,800 employee-owners who are dedicated to saving and protecting lives — we recognize that we must confront systemic discrimination of all forms.
“Let us be unequivocally clear, at Acadian Ambulance, we believe Black Lives Matter. It is our individual and collective responsibility to strive to make our communities more loving, caring, just and equal. It is our sincere hope that, by working together, we can open our minds to love in place of hate, and in friendship in place of fear.
“We’d like to reassure the public that we will swiftly and vigorously investigate and act upon any actions by our employees that are in violation of our values.”
Mann said the workforce at Acadian is diverse and he doesn’t believe that the social media posts will create internal discord at the company. But a string of messages on Facebook under one account where the screen grab was shown suggest some distrust about Bergeron and the company in the public's eyes.
Mann said Acadian Ambulance has been in business since 1971, “49 years a of saving lives without regard to color. Hopefully people will judge us on that.”
Bergeron did not return a call but in a reported statement to KATC television over the weekend, he apologized for the apparent hurt that his postings have caused.
“For 30 years, I have worked as a passionate paramedic for Acadian Ambulance and have cared for all walks of life. When I walk up to a scene, I treat the patient; I see no color,” he told KATC.
“… I would ask that people consider my many years of saving lives and helping people — of all races.”
But the conflict over his social media posts, which arose publicly late last week, is not the first time he has been accused of acting insensitively.
Warren Perrin, a Lafayette lawyer, historian and defender of the Cajun culture, clashed with Bergeron in 2012 when the musician released a song called “RCA (Registered Coonass),” a word that Perrin said was found to be demeaning to White people in a 1980 court case and Black people in a 1996 court case.
Perrin said he objected to Bergeron using the word “coonass” by way of a Council on Development of French in Louisiana letter, but he said the musician “attacked me unmercifully on the Internet.”
Bergeron also sells product lines, including food and bumper stickers, at stores throughout Acadiana and along Interstate 10, bearing what Perrin referred to as “the C-word.”
Bergeron and his band are scheduled to play at Cowboys night club in Scott at 10 p.m. Saturday, according to the band's website.
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