Officials in Manatee County, Florida are under fire after an interpreter for the deaf warned about pizza and monsters during an emergency briefing related to Hurricane Irma.
The interpreter, Marshall Greene, a lifeguard for the county, has a brother who is deaf, according to the DailyMoth, a video news site that provides information via American Sign Language. Greene was used as the interpreter for a Sept. 8 press conference regarding the incoming storm and possible evacuations.
Members of the deaf community said Greene mostly signed gibberish, referencing “pizza,” “monsters,” and using the phrase “help you at that time to use bear big,” during the event. Other information signed to viewers was incomplete, experts said.
The county typically uses interpreters from VisCom, a professional sign language interpreting service. VisCom owner Charlene McCarthy told local media she was not contacted about providing services for the press conference and that Greene was apparently not fluent in American Sign Language.
Manatee County spokesperson Nick Azzara told the Brandenton Herald Greene was asked to interpret during the update rather than have no one signing. The county has requested an interpreter and public information assistance from the state, Azzara said.
Several videos online show the press conference with transcripts of Greene’s signing.