A Concord High School coach has been suspended after she tweeted about arson in relation to a Walkerton pizzeria whose owners told the media they agree with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Jess Dooley, who is the head coach of the girls golf program and also an assistant coach with the softball and girls basketball programs, took to Twitter Wednesday, April 1, to voice her opinion about the RFRA.
She was adding to the conversation about Memories Pizza, a Walkerton restaurant whose owners announced in a television news segment that they would not cater gay weddings.
Her tweet read: “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?”
The situation started early Wednesday after Crystal O’Connor told ABC 57 that her family’s pizza business would not cater to gay weddings because of their Christian beliefs, according to 95.3 MNC’s website. O’Connor added that her family would not deny service to any customers visiting the restaurant to dine.
Since the story aired — which BuzzFeed and Politico also picked up on — thousands of people from across the country have targeted the business’s Facebook and Yelp pages. The pizzeria’s rating on both sites has plummeted to a single star. The business’s website was also hacked to display gay pornography and graphic language.
Dooley’s Twitter account was deleted quickly, taking the tweet in question with it, but that did not stop hundreds of Twitter users from responding. Many announced they would be contacting the school and asking for her to be disciplined, and others criticized her violent response.
One user pointed the tweet out to the Walkerton Police Department.
The police department conducted an investigation and forwarded the case to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges, according to a statement released to the media.
“The Walkerton Police Department is committed to extending professional police services to all in need, regardless of said person’s sexual, religious, or political views,” according to the release. “We encourage all to follow Indiana Laws and Statutes. We ask that all frustrations and rebuttals with Memories Pizza’s recent media statements remain within the law.”
Concord Community Schools superintendent Wayne Stubbs confirmed that the district is aware of the situation and Dooley has been suspended from her coaching duties pending further investigation.
Dooley also works with Concord as a paraprofessional through the Elkhart County Special Education Cooperative. Because the district contracts with the cooperative for support, Stubbs said he could not comment on that part of her employment status. As of 5:30 p.m, a call to ECSEC from The Elkhart Truth was not returned.