The New Rochelle, New York police department suspended one of its sergeants Tuesday after the officer was found to have posted a series of invidious comments about Black Lives Matter on his Facebook page.
According to the Lohud Journal News, city police sergeant Christopher “Stigs” Castiglia was suspended without pay for openly criticizing the social justice movement. News site Black Westchester first reported on the officer’s remarks, after which the department took swift disciplinary action.
Castiglia could face even more trouble if he’s found to be in violation of the department’s social media policy, the paper reports.
“We have taken action,” said department spokesman Capt. Robert Gazzola. “We were displeased with what was posted. The officer did not speak for the department.”
In a post dated July 8, the former sergeant sarcastically instructs African-Americans who protest the police to send for the Black Lives Matter movement when they’re in danger.
“It’s fine to be anti-police, but be 100% about it,” Castiglia wrote. “Don’t call the police when your world is in disarray to help deal with the worst 10 minutes of your life. Figure it out yourself or better yet, call Shaun King and Black Lives Matter for help.”
Black Westchester reports that Castiglia made a similar post just one day after the city’s Black Lives Matter chapter organized a peaceful march from City Hall to Ruby Dee Park. The site notes that BLM publicly thanked the New Rochelle Police Department for its support and protection of the marchers. Yet still, Castigila felt the need to post a snarky comment.
“We protect them while they exercise their First Amendment rights to protest us,” he wrote.
The New Rochelle Police Department later posted a response to the matter on its Facebook page.
An overwhelming majority of local residents who posted comments to the department’s Facebook page expressed favor toward Castiglia and questioned why the department chose to suspend him.
“Freedom of speech. Period,” wrote a man named Richard Sanders, whose Facebook page identifies him as a retired New York City cop. “The hypocrisy of this country crazy. Hope he sues and wins big.”
An onslaught of similar comments followed.
Community activist Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. said inflammatory comments like the ones made by Castiglia and other law enforcement officials only make it harder to rebuild trust between police and communities of color.
“It’s all about accountability and a community has to believe that its officers will enforce the law fairly and without bias,” Chamberlain told Black Westchester. “So the decision to suspend the officer is a step in the right direction.”
According to the Journal News, Castiglia’s suspension comes just weeks after a Mount Vernon fire department lieutenant was fired over an Instagram post voicing support for the sniper who fatally wounded five Dallas police officers.