Jim Cummins, the founder of Dirty Kanza, Jim Cummins, has been fired by Life Time (the race’s parent company) following a Facebook post Cummins made on his personal page. In the post Cummins argues that the shooting of Rayshard Brooks by the Atlanta police was “justified.”
According to CyclingTips, Cummins was initially placed on leave while Life Time conducted a through investigation but has since been fired as the investigation concluded.
Life Time’s statement regarding the status of Jim Cummins.
We commit to continuing to learn, listen & grow toward making our sport a more inclusive place where all feel welcome and represented. We have an opportunity to do better and be better, and we plan on doing just that. pic.twitter.com/wXMQUHeDcU
— Dirty Kanza 200 (@DirtyKanza200) June 21, 2020
“Following a review of the post made by the founder of Dirty Kanza, we found it to be inappropriate and insensitive, and we stand against it as an organization. As an outcome of our investigation, we have parted ways with this individual,” says a statement from Life Time.
“One of our core principles is to provide safe, trusting, and respectful environments for all our members, customers and team members, while rejecting all actions of prejudice or injustice towards others. We will continue to take all matters like this with the same degree of seriousness by conducting thorough reviews and acting any time we believe our company principles have been violated.”
Rayshard Brooks, a black man, was killed by Atlanta police officers this month. Officers were attempting to arrest Brooks so he reacted by grabbing one of the officer’s tasers, firing it, and running away. He was was then shot three times in the back.
Cummins’ Facebook post contained a video of a different black man shooting an officer who is attempting to detain him. In it, he attempts to draw a connection to the killing of Brooks. “Watch this ENTIRE video,” writes Cummins, “Then if you still believe the cop who shot Rayshard Brooks, after he stole the officer’s taser and then used it against him, was not justified in shooting Mr. Brooks… then unfriend me now.”
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A second controversy
This is the second time this year that Cummins has come under public scrutiny. He set up Dirty Kanza in 2006, but recently faced accusations that the name of the event was racist. Kanza can refer to the Kaw Nation, and a petition calling for the event to change its name argued that the use of the word ‘Dirty’ placed before the word Kanza, “shows a disconnect of the history of place, violence, and colonization that has been justified with terms like ‘dirty’ that is connected to America’s Legacy of anti-Indigenous violence.”
In April, Cummins co-signed an open letter, representing Life Time, with the Kaw Nation chairwoman Lynn Williams in which both said they were “proud to stand alongside one another”, and declared that the event would not change its name.
Although the original petition was taken down after the organization posted its open letter, cyclists are once again calling for a name change of the event. The original creator of the petition has stated that they have been organizing with Kanza people for two months, and says that, “they did not give their support to this name.”
This is a great first step. Now change the name. Take control of the narrative and make the honorable decision to change the name- out of respect for the voices you claim to be listening to. Become the heroes, rather than villains.
— TimJackson (@TimJackson) June 21, 2020