FSU community responds to racist photo of Coach Taggart
Students, fans, and faculty members alike come together in support of the coach
After Florida State's loss to UF on Saturday, alleged FSU fan Tom Shand took Facebook to express his grievances with Coach Taggart. Shand posted a horribly graphic photograph of an unknown victim of lynching, with Coach Taggart's face poorly superimposed onto it. The text on the photo said "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing your rep."
The post quickly garnered attention from the FSU community, who rallied behind Coach Taggart to denounce the racist photo.
Just want put this out there, I am not actually Willie Taggart.
This is a parody account.
That being said, the racist comments made about the real Willie Taggart by a FSU fan are disgusting and disturbing.
There’s no room or excuse for racism, PERIOD.
Get your mind right
— Toach_Caggart (@CoachTagg) November 25, 2018
The backlash ultimately led to Shand being fired, as well as an investigation into the incident by State Attorney Jack Campbell.
Campbell said Monday that the "active criminal investigation" will include FSUPD and the Leon County Sherriff's Office, and will review "The post and anything beyond that, any threats against Coach Taggart."
— Jennifer Holton FOX 13 (@jennholtonFOX) November 26, 2018
FSU President John Thrasher released a statement about the photo via Twitter on Sunday. Thrasher called the post "Ignorant and despicable," and expressed his "extreme disgust and disappointment" in the situation, as well as his praise of the impending investigation.
2/2 Coach Taggart has our full support and as true Seminoles know, he is a respected member of the FSU family. — FSU President John Thrasher
— Florida State University (@floridastate) November 25, 2018
He went on to convey his full support for the coach, and said "True Seminoles know [Taggart] is a respected member of the FSU family."
Florida State fans, students, and faculty members alike, echoed Thrasher's sentiments across social media.
Even Marco Rubio spoke out against the post, although he couldn't help but note that he was glad the Gators won the game.
TMZ catches @marcorubio at airport where he weighs in on #FSU, calls Taggart a "good coach." Says he's glad UF won on Saturday, but calls meme posted on Taggart "hateful" and that whoever did it is an "idiot." https://t.co/Axz9peZLHb
— Gary Fineout (@fineout) November 26, 2018
The community's widespread rallying behind Coach Taggart and their continued pushback against blatant displays of racism is reassuring to say the least. It's especially salient during a time when Tallahassee is still reeling from high profile, racially-charged events, such as the Landis Green incident involving Shoup and the College Republicans, as well as the gun that was pulled on FAMU students at Stadium Centre.
Taggart, Florida State's first Black Head Coach, has yet to speak publicly about the incident.