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White House chief of staff says Pico Rivera councilman who criticized military ‘ought to go to hell’

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly slammed a Pico Rivera teacher and councilman Wednesday, after hearing remarks the educator made in the classroom disparaging members of the military.

In an interview on Fox News Radio, Kelly, a retired Marine general, listened to Gregory Salcido’s rant in an El Rancho High School classroom, where he called members of the military the “lowest of our low.”

“Well, I think the the guy ought to go to hell,” Kelly said. “I just hope he enjoys the liberties and the lifestyle that we have fought for.”

Salcido came under fire after video recordings of his rant were posted on social media. The first local media outlet to report on the recordings was Hews Media Group-Community News.

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“We’ve got a bunch of dumb … over there,” Salcido says in the recording, using a expletive. “Think about the people who you know who are over there — your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever — they’re dumb…. They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people. They’re the freaking lowest of our low.”

The diatribe appears to have been in reaction to a student wearing a Marines shirt or sweatshirt.

“You better not freaking go,” Salcido says in one recording. “Don’t wear that in here.”

The videos of Salcido went viral after they were posted on Twitter and Facebook by a woman who identified herself as a friend of the student’s mother. The Facebook post has garnered more than 94,000 shares and 23,000 comments.

While presenting his opinion on the quality of the military, Salcido also invoked what appeared to be stereotypes in reference to people in the Middle East and Asia.

“We haven’t been able to beat these guys wearing freaking robes and chanclas [flip-flops] for 15 years,” he said. “We couldn’t beat the Vietnamese — they’re a bunch of people this freaking big throwing rice at us.”

Salcido, 49, was in New York with his family over the weekend and was scheduled to meet with colleagues and city staff in Washington to lobby for funds to help repair local dams.

After the news broke, Salcido said he and his wife “deemed it appropriate to head home under the circumstances.”

“Because of the many vulgar and violent threats against my family I do not have any comment on the situation at this time,” Salcido said in an email to The Times over the weekend.

Salcido has been criticized by fellow council members and was put on administrative leave by the El Rancho Unified School District, the Whittier Daily News reported.

This is not the first public incident for Salcido, a longtime teacher at El Rancho High and a graduate of the school.

In 2012, according to local news reports, Salcido was placed on leave for striking a student, an incident he characterized at the time as “grossly exaggerated.” In 2010, he was reportedly temporarily suspended after a parent complained that Salcido had threatened his daughter and made inappropriate comments in summer school.

Times staff writer Amina Khan contributed to this report.

brittny.mejia@latimes.com

Twitter: @Brittny_Mejia


UPDATES:

Feb. 1, 9:05 a.m.: This article was updated to attribute the first report of the recordings to Hews Media Group-Community News.

This article was originally published Jan. 31 at 11 a.m.


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