Massachusetts Cop Fired Over Offensive Comment About Deadly Charlottesville Car Attack
A Massachusetts officer has finally been fired over insensitive comments he made mocking the violent attack at a white nationalist rally in Charlotteville, Va. that left one woman dead and 19 others badly injured.
The Springfield Police Department handed officer Conrad Lariviere his pink slip Friday, Dec. 1, after the poked fun at the deadly incident on Facebook, Vice News reported. On Aug. 13, just a day after the violent rally, Lariviere replied to a breaking news post about a neo-Nazi sympathizer who plowed his car into a group of counter–protesters, writing, “Hahaha, love this.”
“Maybe people shouldn’t block roads,” he added.
Lariviere’s comments sparked national outrage, especially after it was revealed he was a law enforcement officer. The quip has since earned him a spot in the unemployment line.
“It will take us months, if not years, to earn back the level of public trust we once had,” Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri said during a press conference announcing the officer’s termination Friday — nearly four months after Lariviere made the comments. “It’s never easy to terminate a fellow officer, and I take no comfort in doing so.”
The Springfield Police took swift action and launched an investigation into Lariviere’s remarks the same day as the attack, according to Vice News. The Police Community Relations Board also launched an independent investigation of its own, concluding that the now-ousted officer had violated departmental policy about how patrolmen should conduct themselves off-duty.
“We had thousands of signatures on a petition, and we had inquiries from civil rights attorneys,” Barbieri said. “[His comments] just garnered so much attention, we felt a need to get out in front, and to be transparent in the dismissal was critical.”
Speaking with MassLive in August, Lariviere expressed remorse for his words and insisted, “I am not a racist.”
“I’m a good man who made a stupid comment and would just like to be left alone,” he told the news site.
Many praised Barbieri’s decision to finally give Lariviere the boot, including Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The city’s local police union, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, expressed disappointment over the officer’s firing, however.
In a statement, the union highlighted it’s lack of a social media policy and argued that Lariviere made the comments as a private citizen and was protected by free speech. The LBPO then took a page straight from President Donald Trump’s book, saying Lariviere was only trying to point out that “such disorderly behavior has serious consequences, and both sides of the dispute bore responsible for the disruptions.”
“We believe that the termination is based on political considerations, not a fair, impartial assessment of the evidence, and the rights and obligations of Off. Lariviere,” the union wrote.
Laviere is expected to appeal his termination.