Two Louisiana police officers have been fired for sharing and liking on Facebook a bogus story about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — one of the four congresswomen recently targeted in a racist rant by President Trump — and suggesting she should be shot.
On Thursday, Charlie Rispoli, an officer with the Gretna Police Department, shared a story with the headline “Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget : ‘We Pay Soldiers Too Much,'” from the satire website Taters Gonna Tate.
“This vile idiot needs a round…..and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” Rispoli wrote, referring to the progressive congresswoman’s previous job as a bartender and insinuating she should be shot.
Rispoli’s post, first reported by NOLA.com, sparked outrage over the weekend and comes as the country continues to grapple with reports of law enforcement officers and government employees posting and reveling in violent and racist content on social media.
President Trump has also continued to target Ocasio-Cortez and three other progressive congresswomen, known as “the Squad,” telling the American citizens to “go back” to their countries and inciting similar racist and demeaning messages from his supporters.
On Monday, Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson announced that Rispoli and Officer Angelo Varisco, who liked Rispoli’s post, had been fired, calling the situation “disturbing” and “an embarrassment to our department.”
“Whether it was a joke or not, it was improper,” Lawson said at a press conference. “To insinuate a violent act against an individual, an elected official, against a seeded US congressperson… It’s completely irresponsible and intolerable.”
The police chief said that he had contacted Facebook to see if any other officers had interacted with the post, which was taken down over the weekend, but has yet to receive a response.
“We still have an open investigation at this time until we get that final information from Facebook,” he told reporters.
Lawson described Rispoli as a “mild-mannered person” who had never had a “disciplinary problem” in the past, adding that he believes the officer “got caught in the heat of the moment.”
Earlier Monday, Lawson said that he had put the 14-year-veteran on administrative leave without pay. Shortly after, the chief announced the officers’ terminations, emphasizing the department’s “zero-tolerance” policy for inappropriate behavior on social media.
“You see it in social media where people don’t read what they’re reading. They react to captions and read a headline and react to it, and it’s a shame,” the chief said. “It’s the world we are living now… It’s sad but it’s something we can’t tolerate. It’s a tough lesson, but hopefully it’s a lesson learned.”
Before the announcement that the officers had been fired, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the Facebook post highlighted how how Trump is “sowing violence” with his rhetoric.
The controversy comes after the Plain View Project reported that police officers across the US had made thousands of incendiary posts on Facebook, sparking several investigations. Last week, the Philadelphia Police Department fired 13 of its officers and disciplined more than 50 others.
Earlier this month, US Customs and Border Protection said that it was investigating 70 current and former employees for participating in a secret Border Patrol Facebook group filled with racist and misogynist comments.
The name of US Customs and Border Protection was misstated in an earlier version of this post.
- 13 Philadelphia Cops Will Be Fired For Racist And Violent Facebook PostsTasneem Nashrulla · July 19, 2019
- Trump’s Racism Hit A New Level As He Told Four Congresswomen To “Go Back” To Their “Broken” CountriesClaudia Koerner · July 14, 2019
- Cops Across The US Have Been Exposed Posting Racist And Violent Things On Facebook. Here’s The Proof.Emily Hoerner · June 1, 2019
Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Brianna Sacks at [email protected]
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