LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Officials from a Southern California city are roundly condemning disparaging comments made about members of the U.S. military by a local teacher.
Audio first emerged over the weekend of history teacher and Pico Rivera Council Member Gregory Salcido telling students U.S. servicemembers serving overseas are “not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people. They’re the freakin’ lowest of our low.”
In a statement released Monday, city officials said they “unequivocally disagree and condemn” Salcido’s comments, adding, “The City Council and residents of Pico Riviera are steadfast in the recognition that the contributions by those who have served or are currently serving our country via military service are respected and we are grateful for their service.”
According to CBS2’s Randy Paige, Salcido has since been removed from all committees on the Pico Rivera City Council over the remarks and that other fellow council members are “unanimous in their condemnation” of his remarks.
Officials from the El Rancho Unified School District issued a statement on Friday saying an investigation was underway into the remarks.
Salcido did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some students, however, are supporting Salcido on social media using the hashtag “JusticeForSauce”.
An Instagram account belonging to Salcido also appeared to have been deleted.
At an El Rancho Unified School District meeting Tuesday night, however, not many people felt that way.
A crowd packed with veterans interrupted the speaker during the meeting, chastising the absent Salcido for his inflammatory remarks.
On the agenda, though, was a discussion of whether or not to hire legal representation. Whether it was needed for this matter was not discussed.
“You oughta make it a topic, and you should allow us to speak,” one woman told the board.
Outside the meeting, several people voiced their concerns.
“I have a education. I would like to know, does he, did he ever have a top-secret clearance in the military? I did,” said Karen Rand, a Marine Corps veteran.
People were similarly upset at the Pico Rivera American Legion.
“His comments are based on ignorance,” said Navy veteran Scott Duncan. “That’s not knowing the reality of serving the country.”
Salcido was elected to the Pico Rivera City Council in 1999, and even twice served as the city’s mayor in 2002 and 2010.
He was at the center of another controversy in 2012 after he acknowledged he smacked a student on the back of his head for being disruptive in class.
“When I smacked him on the back of his head and said, ‘Pick up your head and pay attention’, he didn’t say, ‘Ouch’,” Salcido said at the time.
KCAL9’s Andrea Fujii reports that a spokesperson from the Pentagon chimed in on the issue Monday. The spokesperson said Salcido’s statements are uninformed and the Pentagon would like to give him an accurate image of those who serve and why.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it’s investigating criminal threats surrounding the incident, and was providing extra deputies in and around the school.