A New Jersey township has fired a long-serving police officer who called Black Lives Matter demonstrators “terrorists” on social media.
Last June, veteran Hopewell Township police officer Sara Erwin wrote a Facebook post calling the group “terrorists” and criticising those who supported the movement online.
“Last night as I left for work I had my two kids crying for me not to go to work,” she wrote, according to NJ.com. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt the way I did last night. And then I watched people I know and others I care about going into harms way. I love my police family like my own. So when you share posts and things on Facebook I’d really appreciate if you’d THINK before doing so. I’ve seen so many black lives matter [sic] hashtags in these posts. Just to let you know – they are terrorists. They hate me. They hate my uniform. They don’t care if I die.”
Other officers responded to the post.
On Friday, the township council voted unanimously to fire Ms Erwin and suspend Sgt. Mandy Grey, who responded to the post, for six months.
Frank Crivelli. a lawyer for the officers, said they have “exemplary” records with “absolutely no disciplinary history,” and called the firing “disgraceful”.
When the posts first went public, at the height of a summer filled with Black Lives Matter protests after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, residents in Hopewell protested and the then-police chief Lance Maloney apologised to the community.
Mr Maloney retired later that year and the town elected to have a civilian police leader run the department.
A year prior, a biracial officer sued the department for racial discrimination, alleging his peers regularly taunted and insulted him based on his race.
Police officers around the country, from Pacific Grove, California, to Kissimmee, Florida, have been fired and disciplined for posts mocking the Black Lives Matter Movement, which strongly critiques the police for using disproportionate force on Black people.
Others, meanwhile, have been punished for posts supporting the movement.
The Black Lives Matter also inspired a counter-movement among police officers called Blue Lives Matter, which some consider a garden variety pro-police cause, and others have criticised as a right-wing valorisation of police violence.