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Dirty Kanza founder fired for saying police shooting of Rayshard Brooks was 'justified'

Colin Strickland, winner of the 2019 Dirty Kanza
Cummins with Colin Strickland, winner of the 2019 Dirty Kanza (Image credit: Linda Guerrette (JC Photography))

The founder of Dirty Kanza, Jim Cummins, has been fired by the organisers of the popular gravel race over a social media post in which he claimed the shooting of a black man by police in Atlanta this week was "justified". 

Cummins, who set up Dirty Kanza in 2006, was dismissed from his role as 'Chief Gravel Officer' by Life Time, the company that now runs the event, on Saturday night. 

He had posted on Facebook to address the killing of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot dead as police officers tried to arrest him on Friday. Brooks' death came at a time when repeated killings of African Americans by police had led to anti-racism protests across America and the world. 

Cummins, whose Facebook account has now been deleted, reposted a video of the attempted arrest two years ago of Daniel Clary, who shot at two police officers and escaped. Cummins added the following message: "Watch this ENTIRE video. 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."

Life Time, which also runs the Big Sugar and Crusher in the Tushar gravel events, issued a statement later on Saturday. 

"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," it said.

"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."

Cummins had recently faced accusations that the name of Dirty Kanza was itself racist. Kanza can refer to the Kaw Nation, a native American tribe, and so the event's name was read as a slur by those petitioning for it to be changed. In April, Cummins co-signed an open letter from the race and Kaw Nation chairwoman Lynn Williams in which both said they were "proud to stand alongside one another".