Kenneth Tate, a contracted security guard was hired by Professional Security Corporation to escort President Obama during his visit to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. What Tate had expected to be a wonderful experience of a lifetime turned out to be a nightmare.
Tate spent many years in the workforce in construction and as a correctional officer. It would seem, according to the New York Times, that he would be proud of his $42,000-a-year employment as a private security guard at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a job at which he says he was assigned to be Obama’s right hand man.
A black man, born in Chicago, Tate was overjoyed at having the opportunity to meet the first black president, whom he completely admired. Little did Tate know that his encounter with the president would cost him his career.
September 16 started as any other workday according to Tate. The New York Times reveals that upon Tate’s arrival at the CDC, he was “issued a.40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and two magazine clips. Mr. Tate said he had holstered the weapon on his belt under his suit jacket.”
Tate was then given instructions that he was to operate the service elevator that President Obama would be using. Obama’s motorcade pulled up at the back entrance of the CDC at approximately 2:25 p.m., where Mr. Tate waited anxiously. Tate tells the New York Times that Obama instigated a conversation between the two.
“He acknowledged me, said, ‘How you are doing? What’s your name?’ I told him my name, and he extended his hand, shook my hand, and I said it’s a pleasure to meet him. And I proceeded to escort him upstairs. I was just proud. That was a big accomplishment to me.”
When Obama had finished his appointment at the CDC, CBS News reports that Tate pulled out his cell phone as the motorcade was about to leave, and snapped a picture of the outside of the armored limo. Immediately, one of the Secret Service agents motioned for him to get back, that he was too close to the Beast, aka Obama’s Limo.
Tate did as instructed and headed back inside the building. It wasn’t long, mere minutes actually, when Tate was sequestered into a meeting with his angry bosses and was questioned by the Secret Service. Tate was asked to delete the photos, which he immediately complied.
The New York Times reports that Tate was completely baffled by what was going on.
“I was upset. I’m nervous because I’m like, I don’t understand what’s going on.”
After the pictures were deleted, and the Secret Service had completed their interrogation of Mr. Tate and left the premises, Tate’s bosses took his CDC badge. One week later, Tate was handed a letter of termination.
What has come to light since then is that it was against the rules for Mr. Tate to be carrying a gun that day in the presence of Obama. That was a mistake that was made by Julia Pierson, the Secret Service Director, who was forced to resign after this incident, according to New York Magazine.
Several media outlets also began reporting that Tate was a convicted felon, which turned out to be false information. According to Professional Security Corporation’s statement, as reported by CBS News, “Tate had no felony or misdemeanor convictions. Tate had been arrested on robbery and assault charges but never convicted.”
Tate tells the New York Times that he has still not been given an explanation from either the CDC nor Professional Security Corporation regarding his termination.
What Tate had wanted to be a memorable experience meeting Obama turned out horribly wrong.
“This was unjust and has been a nightmare. I’ve tried to rationalize it. It won’t go away.”
[Photo Credit: NYTimes.com]