Knoxville Mayor Glenn Jacobs, the man who performed for WWE as Kane, prompted criticism recently due to his involvement with a video by the group Freedom Forward. The video featured Jacobs' narration and referred to health care officials as "sinister forces." Images of fire and violence accompanied Jacobs speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic and regulations to contain it.
"Today this foundation is under attack. Not from some enemy abroad, but from sinister forces within," Jacobs said in the video, which showed the faces of the Knox County Board of Health. "Unelected bureaucrats who cast down edicts which carry the force of law with no accountability and no recourse." Jacobs later said that the video was not intended for social media and that it was supposed to play at a private meeting.
WATCH: “I FELT THREATENED.” @KnoxCoHealthTN board members react to a dangerous video released by MAYOR @GlennJacobsTN (an ex-wrestler) calling them “SINISTER FORCES” attacking freedom— as the pandemic SPIKES in Knoxville. 😷@KnoxvilleHoller
(75% of TN supports mask mandates) pic.twitter.com/MKnheD8qYk— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) September 24, 2020
"The group was encouraged to get involved with local government – not advocate against the Board of Health," Jacobs said in a statement. "I am not directly involved in Freedom Forward. I was invited as a guest." The mayor said that Citizen Advertising filmed and produced the video at no cost.
The members of the Board of Health responded to the video by saying that they felt threatened by the video. "I saw this video and it disturbed me. It disheartened me. It hurt. We are volunteers, we are the people," said Patrick O'Brien, a board member. "As a military officer who has sworn to serve this country, I felt threatened by what I saw."
According to CBR, Director of the Knox County Health Department Dr. Martha Buchanan said that officials have seen an increase in social media threats since the release of the video. Board member Dr. Maria Hurt said that her children called her after hearing about the video to see if she was safe. "My neighbors, both Republicans and Democrats, patrol my neighborhood to make sure people aren't harassing us," she said.
Jacobs said that he was sorry the board members felt threatened after the video's release. It was later taken down amid public backlash. According to CBR, Jacobs did not apologize for the video itself or his involvement in the project.