The Bethel School District told KIRO 7 on Thursday that it has fired a first-year high school wrestling coach after investigating a social media post that showed him on the ground with a knee on the back of his neck as he smiles and gives a thumbs-up.
"We have completed our investigation. Dave Hollenbeck is no longer employed by the Bethel School District. His behavior was not consistent with our equity initiatives and nondiscrimination policies,” said district spokesman Doug Boyles.
The post was in reference to George Floyd, who died Monday after Minneapolis police pinned him to the ground with a knee to the neck. Viral video showed Floyd pleading that he could not breathe.
“This is for all the race baiters and people that don’t What (sic) they’re talking about when they’re saying that this could kill you,” read the Facebook post, which appeared to have since been deleted from the coach Dave Hollenbeck’s page.
The post’s caption appears to have been updated as a second screenshot being shared on social media states: “Not dead yet I’m doing this for Are [sic] police officers the media is a race-baiting machine and I’m tired of it I’m going to speak out every time if you don’t like that I’m sorry but I love All people.. Wake up America.”
“There is no reasonable rationale for him to post anything like that,” said Jay Davenport, one of the district parents outraged over the post. “It’s about humanity, it’s about integrity; that post lacks both."
Davenport, a youth sports coach himself, said staying quiet about the post was not an option.
“You have young impressionable lives that you’re mentoring and you’re making stuff like this?’ said Davenport. “I have no tolerance for that.”
Hollenbeck defended his post in an interview with KIRO 7.
"I did not tell any lies; I showed that I was OK from a knee on my neck. That is it,” Hollenbeck said. “I did not say anything racist and maybe it was insensitive at the time.”
The district said Hollenbeck wasn’t a teacher.
"This was his first year as a wrestling coach at Bethel High School. As wrestling season is over, he is not working for us right now,” Boyles said.