How A Fracking Protest Exposed Moronic Racism

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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.”


  • Willy Warfrat

    Congratulations to this group, who politely let the fool show us all who he is & how he ‘thinks’.
    I have often wished I were a bit more camera-savvy, & this piece might be what makes me start figuring it out (videography). I could produce any number of this type of ‘interview’ around here (Pacific NW) & I think it would be helpful to many who don’t realize how deep & serious the cultural divides have become recently.
    Thanks again for keeping cool & letting the man speak for himself!

  • This guy is not unusual. Many under-educated Tea Party members see a black person and think: “There is a n… who lives off my tax dollars. I work hard and they get my money.” I wish the cameraman had shot him on the spot for calling him a chimp and making monkey noises. Clearly justifiable homicide.

  • DoryHippauf

    the past year, Tom Jefferson has been documenting average people
    across the country fighting to end extreme energy extraction and address
    climate change. His filming of the peaceful protest in Mars is part of
    his upcoming documentary “The Way We Live”.
    He needs YOUR HELP. You can help with your donations at

  • Kevin M Benderman

    It may be the emotional response many would like to see, but the man behind the camera rose above it. He did what he needed to do, he did nothing but let the man do what he did to himself. Things are changing, he was fired and he was vilified locally, nationally, and internationally.

    If he had shot him, it would only give more fuel to the idiots who started coming onto the company’s website and making more racial statements.

    Imagine the inner strength it shows in the man behind the camera, he may have felt like beating that guy into the ground. As it turns out, he didn’t have to lift a finger. He let the guy hang himself.

    I will say this, if the racist had physically attacked the man behind the camera, that man would have every right to defend himself.

  • Jon

    He “shot” him with the cameras, and that was more powerful.

  • Paul Flansburg

    There’s a bigger story here. Kevin alerted us, in an e-mail, “He [Pisone] seems to have looked inward in a self-critical way. A big step for him.

    At the same time the African American photojournalist who was attacked, Tom Jefferson​, is getting plaudits for his unflappable response. And, Tom is also showing sympathy for the man who made the attack, recognizing “he’s a victim of what was shoved into him. The way he is, well, it’s not his fault… . ”

    He’s already been publicly shamed and austicized by his (dubious?) employer and perhaps his family. His best chance for “the way he is” to be the way he WAS would be some well placed compassion. How many of us know from experience that, when we were victims, when it was not our fault, we changed because we benefitted from an understanding that no one else thought we deserved?

    The consequences of such a conversion are both lasting and generous. “To change everything, we need everyone.” We may need his help if only to replicate the paradigm with farther reaching implications in the future.

  • Henry

    No, not justifiable.

  • Robert Hodge

    I agree 100% – except the “maybe its ‘not entirely his fault’ part”
    … at some point in life a MATURE PERSON coming into ADULTHOOD will come to a conclusion that perhaps their ‘surroundings’ were unhealthy or not worthy of perpetuating, and make the change BEFORE they show what an “asshole” looks like….he must have missed that lesson, unless he’s younger than he looks! Immaturity such as this can be marginally tolerated in a pre-teen, for maybe a nanosecond, but when you reach adulthood (maybe I should have said “IF” you reach adulthood?) you really should know better!

  • Robert Hodge

    It’s uncanny how people like that guy are always bitchin about “”the OTHER”” ‘livin off my tax dollars” when so called “defense” contractors etc. have been “REALLY livin off our tax dollars!” Does he know what a FIGHTER JET costs these days?? You know, the ones the Military doesn’t even WANT? How about BILLIONS of dollars each! And don’t even get me started on EVERY SINGLE BOMB/BULLET/TANK/DESTROYER…

  • Eric Meiers

    Kevin has the one who posted this up on your site I did it because I’d worked out of Morgantown West Virginia I met an associate with people who seemed exactly like this man does not let me to be in position to be so forgiving I applaud you so much for your nature and know that everything you do is aboveboard and what you know it’s admired thank you for all you do

  • Patrick_Walker

    Does anybody else see a fracking services company firing John Pisone for a racist rant as deep HYPOCRISY, rooted in CYA damage control? It strikes me that fracking companies have largely appealed to rural poor whites (they live where the gas is) on grounds closely related to racism and xenophobia. Besides the (exaggerated) dollar appeal they’ve sold fracking to poor whites on the grounds of U.S. energy independence, often a loosely coded way of saying we won’t have to get oil from “those Muslim terrorists.” And they’ve been as cynical toward those same poor whites in making that appeal, since they’ve usually failed to disclose the health and environmental effects fracking would have on poor rural white themselves and have definitely concealed the ENORMOUS amount of fracked gas that would be for export.
    Perhaps John Pisone should have been suspended, but his firing makes him seem a scapegoat for a rather racist industry with a WELL-DESERVED PR problem.

  • Patrick_Walker

    It strikes me that if John Pisone does some REALLY effective self-reflection, he’ll not only see that blacks like Tom Jefferson aren’t his enemy, but that the companies and subcontractors of the fracking industry are. What the incident shows me is that the poor rural whites whom they court so assiduously to sign leases and take fracking-related jobs are really just “poor white trash” in their corporatist eyes. These same companies PANDER to poor rural white xenophobia and racism, but are quick as hell to SACRIFICE those poor rural whites when the racism and xenophobia they pander to actually appears–and damages their PR. In this economy, losing a job means a LOT; oil and gas CEOs equally racist but considerably shrewder are NOT losing their jobs.

  • supermodelsonya

    Agreed. It’s like that’s all they see. When there is a person of color involved, it’s seems that it’s beat into their psyche that this person MUST be living off my tax dollars. They are ALL on welfare and public assistance and somehow they are paying for it, even when many of them are on some sort of public assistance themselves. I just giggled to myself when I learned of a few White supremacists making racist comments about people of color, and then catch them at the grocery store with their own Food stamp cards or on social security. It’s enough to drive someone to drink.

  • Laurie Van Den Beldt

    Bravo Tom for continuing to do your job while you were accused of not working!

  • Landis Cole

    Bully, gun-collecting, tobacco-chewing hillbilly racist. See ’em everywhere. It’s bred into them and they will in turn pass it on to their kids. Pisone will pay for his “cute” remarks (he thought he was being funny) for the rest of his life. Maybe the interweb is good for something – exposing these dangerous ignorant thugs for who they are: parochial punks.

  • John Watson

    you and your wife are fake tanned asf

    you hate people of color yet you fake tan your skin in an attempt to be colored lol