Jacksonville-area Naval Academy alumni board member resigns after accidentally broadcasting racial slurs
A seemingly quiet Friday night on the couch between a now-former Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees member and his wife went awry when a private conversation was broadcast to hundreds.
While Scott Bethmann, 63, and his wife, Nancy, were watching the news, they started discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, making racist comments and using slurs including the N-word in a video that was accidentally streamed on Facebook Live.
Now, locals are calling for action, and he’s resigned from his position with the Naval Academy Alumni Association on national and local levels, where he also served as the local chapter’s treasurer. Bethmann is also a member of the Atlantic Beach Country Club. A previous version of this story incorrectly identified him as a board member.
“Somehow I clicked onto some live event,” Scott Bethmann can be heard saying in the now-viral video.
In video reviewed by the Times-Union, Bethmann can be heard talking about how large companies including Citi Bank are coming out with statements denouncing racism and showing solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’ve got the emails about how we’re supporting and we need to fix this problem, f— you,” he said in the video. “So all the white people have to say something nice to the black b—- that works in the office. But the black b—- don’t get fired. It’s bulls—. Management’s going to fire the white people.”
At one point, Nancy refers to the black community and the “f—ing Asians” and Scott uses the N-word.
“The white m—–f—– can’t say anything,” Bethmann said on the live video. “That’s the point we’re making here, Nancy.”
The pair also discussed how minority groups, particularly women, in the military were going to “steal our intellectual property.”
By the end of the 33-minute accidental stream, which mostly shows a black screen, the video shows Bethmann realizing he’s live and pointing the camera at his cream colored couch. He starts reading the comments aloud and asks “What are they talking about?” before muttering “Oops,” and cutting the feed.
Today, his Facebook page has been taken down entirely.
Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville residents were quick to take screen recordings of the video Friday night before Bethmann’s page was scrubbed. Those recordings have been posted and shared across social media platforms and were re-posted multiple times in the Atlantic Beach community Facebook group — though comments show group administrators have been taking the threads down.
Commenters wondered if Bethmann’s apparent bias might have affected Naval recruit’s promotions or career trajectories in the past.
“Scott has resigned as a local board member locally and nationally,” said Caleb Cronic, the USNA Alumni Association Jacksonville chapter president.
Cronic confirmed Bethmann was also disenrolled as a member of the alumni association.
“These attributed statements do not represent the mission and values of the Alumni Association, the Naval Academy or the U.S. Navy,” Retired Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III said in a statement. “As volunteer leaders in our communities, we must be inspirations and examples for all citizens. As Chairman of our Alumni Association, I have accepted the resignation of this alumnus effective today, and asked the Jacksonville, FL, chapter to take appropriate action to appoint a new Chapter Trustee.”
Locklear went on to say that the alumni association represents “more than 65,000 individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.”
“We support the Naval Academy mission. As alumni, we seek to uphold the Naval Academy core leadership values of honor, courage and commitment,” he added. “As an alumni organization, we seek to be an inspiration for all young people who want to become future Navy and Marine Corps officers. We will continue to honor that inspirational role. We are all in this together. We must face the challenges of today and all future challenges of tomorrow…together.”
Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday echoed Locklear’s comments.
“As individuals, as Sailors, and as a Navy, we cannot tolerate racism of any kind,” Gilday said in a statement emailed to the Times-Union. “We must actively speak out against it. And when it rears its ugly head, we must take decisive action.”
After the Times-Union’s initial story was published, a spokesman with the Atlantic Beach Country Club confirmed Bethmann’s status as a country club membership would be rescinded.
“Be assured we find these comments extremely offensive, inflammatory and antithetical to what this Club stands for and represents,” a statement from the country club said. “As such, we have voted today to immediately expel this member and his family from the Club.”
The statement added that the club’s board of directors “condemn any racist, bigoted and demeaning behavior” and is committed to protecting “an inclusionary staff and membership where respect and dignity are openly represented.”
Despite multiple attempts — including one where the phone was answered and immediately hung up — Bethmann could not be reached for comment.
But later, following the Times-Union and First Coast News publishing respective stories about the incident, Bethmann and his wife released a statement via their spokeswoman, Ryan Wiggins.
“This is the only statement that will be released from the family,” Wiggins said in an email. She also provided a photo of the couple for publication.
Below is the family’s full statement:
“There are no words that can appropriately express how mortified and apologetic my wife and I are about the insensitive things we said that were captured on social media. There is never a time when it is appropriate to use derogatory terms when speaking about our fellow man. I know that an apology from us rings hollow on many ears in our community, especially in the current environment. We intend on using this experience as an opportunity to grow, listen, learn, and reflect. We are deeply sorry for the impact our actions have had on the Naval Academy, my fellow servicemen and women, our former colleagues, friends, family, and the community as a whole. We are committed to educating ourselves more on the racial inequalities in this country and being better people.”
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