How A Fracking Protest Exposed Moronic Racism

Above: Screen shots of John Pisone during his racist tirade.

Professional photographer and videographer, Tom Jefferson.

Professional photographer and videographer, Tom Jefferson.

Update: John Pisone has apologized for the racial attack on photojournalist Tom Jefferson. Not only did Pisone lose his job but he received death threats and had to shut down his social media accounts as the video of his racial tirade went viral. Pisone told the media that he regretted his actions as soon as he turned and walked away.  

WPXI, Channel 11 reports Pisone saying:  “It was foolish of me, especially to go racial over the whole thing. . . This was stupid of me. I was angry.” When asked if he was a racist he said he was not “completely racist” and he “went racial on him, him being black. I thought this was going to cut deep. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. I won’t ever do this again.” Pisone has turned to his church to help guide him through this incident. He said while his family is ashamed of his actions, they are supporting him.

While Pisone has been criticized for his racial tirade, Tom Jefferson has been praised for his response. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column describes Jefferson as “standing tall against a racist rant” and how Jefferson “remained unflappable” as Pisone  sought “to egg the documentarian on.” Columnist Tony Norman describes how Jefferson “held the camera steady, documenting the tirade.” He reports that Jefferson was even sympathetic to Pisone saying “In a way, he’s a victim of what was shoved into him. The way he is, well, it’s not his fault.”

Racial Verbal Attack at Fracking Protest Leads to Man Being Fired

A protest in Pennsylvania against fracking near schools organized by grandparents turned into an event that exposed a moronic racist.

Tom Jefferson, a photojournalist, caught the seen on video and became a target of the racist abuse. Jefferson described the incident on his YouTube channel writing: “I was photographing a peaceful protest aimed at Rex Energy in Mars, Pa, At one point during the day a worker showed up. He started by insulting the protesters. Then he turned his attention to me. I just let him talk and kept the camera rolling.”

Tom kept videotaping as the racist attack became more aggressive. He remained silent and let the racist, John Pisone, do the talking exposing himself. Here’s the viral video, which at the time of this writing has had 266,245 views on YouTube:

The video was shocking to many. When it went viral it made its way to Pisone’s employer, MMC Land Management, which provides landscaping, erosion control, snow removal and other services to home builders, general contractors, real estate developers, or property and facility managers.*  The company took immediate action, firing Pisone. They wrote on their Facebook page

Today, we were disgusted to learn that one of MMC’s former employees used racial slurs and made racially charged comments during a peaceful protest in Mars, Pennsylvania, outside of work hours at a location with which we have no affiliation. We are sorry that this incident occurred. Whether at work or not, we do not condone hate speech – EVER. Inclusion and diversity are among MMC’s core values. We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. MMC has terminated this employee and will never do business with him again in the future.

The company writes that they received so much “positive local, national, and international feedback” that they shut off the ability to comment on their page. They describe a healthy discourse that was beginning to be invaded by racist trolls for whom they did not want to provide a platform.

Media who saw the tape were obviously disgusted by Pisone’s behavior. Channel 11 in Pittsburgh described his actions as an “unrelenting . . . harsh verbal attack that devolved into a racial tirade. A recording of the incident shows him making animal noises and repeatedly using a racial slur when referring to the African-American photographer who captured the incident.”  Philly News described the video as containing “deeply offensive language.” 

Philly News described the ongoing protests opposing fracking near schools writing:

The protest stemmed from an ongoing battle over six proposed drilling wells on Rex Energy’s Geyer well pad, a permitted site located approximately six miles from the Mars School District campus, which serves 3,200 students. Demonstrations have been held over the past year amid reports linking Pennsylvania fracking operations to health problems and encroachment on territory housing the state’s most vulnerable residents.

People involved in the fracking protest described what happened to Channel 11:

Ping Pirrung and Diane Sipe were protesting in Mars on Sunday against the close proximity of natural gas drilling to area schools when Pisone arrived.

“He drove up, got out of his truck and started basically harassing us,” Pirrung said.

“I think he was trying to get something going, and when he didn’t succeed with us, I think he then attacked the cameraman because, I guess, he is a racist,” Sipe said.

While people like Pisone are disturbing, the reaction to his racism was heartening. His employer immediately fired him; the media and people in the social media reacted with anger and pity at Pisone’s ignorant racism. We hope Pisone is capable of looking inward at himself self-critically and is able to see such broad negative reaction to his behavior and views as a signal that he was wrong. 

Jefferson showed he recognized that Pisone was a victim of his environment and expressed sympathy for him. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described Jefferson’s reaciton:

“A thoughtful man who admitted to feeling some measure of sympathy for the petty bigot who tried to dehumanize him, Mr. Jefferson expressed no anger over an encounter that became famous as soon as he uploaded it to TomOCP, his YouTube channel. ‘I wasn’t surprised that he lost his job,’ Mr. Jefferson told me. ‘What he did was so severe, it was bound to come back to haunt him. In a way, he’s a victim of what was shoved into him. The way he is, well, it’s not his fault.’”

Tom Jefferson is a very talented professional photographer and video journalist whose work is admired by many. His recent work has focused on fracking, social justice and climate change. He is nearing completion of a documentary “The Way We Live.”  Click here to support his work. Below is a trailer for his upcoming movie, which we hope you will support.


* Anne Meador of the DC Media Group sent us more information on the company, she tells us that Rebellionem wrote:

“John Pisone was employed by MMC Land Management, a Marcellus Shale service company (aka subcontractor) profiled in Pittsburgh Business Times earlier this year for their entry into the shale industry. “In the past few years, MMC has established a presence in the region’s growing energy extraction industry by providing products and services to well and pipeline sites.” 

The Bizjournal for Pittsburgh reports:

“Today, MMC is a full-scale commercial operation based in Richland Township. In addition to landscaping design, installation and maintenance, the company offers erosion control services, snow and ice removal and land-management consulting solutions.

In the past few years, MMC has established a presence in the region’s growing energy extraction industry by providing products and services to well and pipeline sites.

“The product is compost filter sock, which goes into well pads and gas pads in that industry,” Frasca said, explaining that installing the materials helps control storm-water runoff and prevents sediment from seeping onto roads near the sites.”