The mayor of a West Philadelphia town is under fire this week for a poorly misspelled Facebook post calling on police to “destroy” Black protesters with water cannons.
As reported by WTAE-TV, Mayor Karen Peconi, who leads the Pittsburgh suburb of Arnold, shared a ViralLeaks video to her Facebook page last week showing Black “rioters” getting sprayed with water hoses, along with a photo of young civil rights protesters being hosed by firefighters in Birmingham, Ala. nearly 60 years ago.
“I am posting this so the authorities everywhere sees (sic) this … bring the hoses,” Peconi wrote. “They don’t care about jobs for PGH … none of them work now. That’s how they can do this at 7 a.m. Very sad.”
The mayor’s offensive posts came amid protests over the shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose, Jr. Rose was shot three times by a West Philly police officer while fleeing a traffic stop earlier this month.
In another post on her page, Peconi encouraged police to spray protesters with “water [sic] canons,” writing, “we need one of these for tomorrow” in reference to a photo showing civil rights-era demonstrators being blasted with hoses.
When initially asked for comment, Peconi replied in third person claiming, “the mayor didnt’ post those,” WTAE reported. She later released a statement apologizing for the posts.
“I love this community, I would do anything for the people here,” wrote Pecoci. “…I do not take my position as Mayor lightly and deeply regret the comments I made on Facebook. It was never my intention to offend anyone, and for those who I offended I’m sincerely sorry.”
Councilman Joseph Bia, who serves alongside the mayor, wasn’t impressed by the apology and said it’d be better for Peconi to simply resign.
“What good would an apology do right now?” Bia told the Tribune-Review. “I can’t see that that would do any good. This is just a huge negative mark on our city.”
Fellow Councilman Philip McKinley said he was “flabbergasted” by the mayor’s call for state-sanctioned violence against protesters and called her comments clearly racist.
“I don’t believe it’s something the mayor should be posting,” McKinley told WTAE station. “When she said, ‘Those people don’t work in the morning,’ you knew what she was talking about. The City of Arnold is predominately African-American. We all live side by side.”
“It shouldn’t be about race,” he added. “The comment is not called for, whatsoever.”
Peconi’s Facebook page has since been deleted.