As the consequences and larger questions following Saturday’s white supremacist violence in Charlottesville continue to reverberate through our country, the media spotlight is illuminating troubling incidents of racism and insensitivity in some startling places.
According to an Associated Press report today, a police officer from a town 400 miles away is in hot water for his social media comments about a photo showing James Alex Fields, a 20-year-old alt-right member form Ohio, plowing his car into a crowd of protesters and killing Heather Hayer.
“A Massachusetts police officer is facing disciplinary action for writing ‘Hahahaha love this. Maybe people shouldn’d’ on Facebook in response to a post about a car striking and killing a counter-protester at a white supremacist rally in Virginia. Springfield Officer Conrad Lariviere later apologized, saying in a Facebook conversation with Masslive.com that he’s a “good man who made a stupid comment.”
Fields’ act of terrorism also injured 19 other protesters. The photo in question was posted by far right wing commentator Ben Shapiro on his own Facebook page. It’s that post Lariviere was responding to, while also questioning how people were so certain the perpetrator was a Nazi, urging others on the thread to “stop being part of the problem.”
Lariviere also engaged in a comment back-and-forth with a another Facebook user, saying that as a police officer he faces danger every day “with warrants, but who cares right you ignorant brat live in a fantasy land with the rest of America while I deal with the real danger.”
The comment posted on Saturday, the day of the attack. John Barbieri, Springfield Police Commissioner, heard about his officer’s comment on Sunday and took quick action.
“I took immediate steps to initiate a prompt and thorough internal investigation,” Barbieri said in an email to the AP. “If in fact this post did originate from an officer employed with the Springfield Police Department, this matter will be reviewed by the Community Police Hearings Board for further action.”