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Layton police officer resigns after posting racist meme on NAACP leader’s Facebook page

First Published      Last Updated Jun 16 2017 08:26 pm



Civil rights advocate reported the message because the source was an officer, he says.

A Layton police officer has resigned after he admitted to posting a racist image on the Facebook page of a prominent Massachusetts civil rights leader and bishop.

Bishop Talbert Swan, who is president of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP, said he noticed the meme June 6 on his public Facebook page, which has more than 44,000 followers. Swan said the image was posted in the comments under one of his posts, which compared sexual assault allegations made against Bill Cosby with those made against President Trump.

Posted by a Facebook user with the name Woden Muninn, the meme depicts ancient Egyptians with dark skin "washing" the genitals of lighter-skinned men, Swan said in an email.




At the top it reads "WE WUZ KANGZ!" At the bottom, it states: "NO. YOU WERE [expletive] WASHERS."

Swan said the meme "made a mockery of African Americans," adding that he found it to be "racist, despicable, and unbecoming for any law enforcement officer to post on social media."

The meme is based off an ancient Egyptian depiction of circumcision. "WE WUZ KANGZ" is apparently a play on the phrase "we were kings" — a reference reminding African Americans their heritage dates back to a time before slavery when they were kings, queens and community leaders in Africa, Swan said.

As an outspoken civil rights advocate and radio host, Swan said he gets racist messages and comments similar to the meme "all the time." But when he noticed the Muninn Facebook page appeared to belong to a Utah law enforcement officer, he felt compelled to take action.

"I thought that it needed to be dealt with more directly, because this person was potentially a police officer, held to a higher standard," Swan said in a telephone interview. "I though it was disgusting and reprehensible that such a despicable meme would come from an officer of the law."

Swan emailed eight agencies he suspected the officer might work for, based off photos and posts on the page. It appears the officer posted under a pseudonym; the page had been taken down by Friday morning.

Layton City Attorney Gary Crane said officials quickly investigated, and determined the meme might have been posted by the Layton officer, who Crane declined to identify. The officer admitted he had made the post, and was "suspended immediately." Crane said the officer was off-duty when he made the post.

"He was very upfront about it," Crane said of the officer.

A time was set for a pre-disciplinary hearing with the officer, which would have involved one of the city attorneys, Police Chief Allen Swanson and several others, Crane said. But before the meeting could occur, he said, the officer resigned.

"What was posted was unacceptable, and inconsistent with city's standards for its employees," Crane said.

Swan said he appreciated the department's swift response and apology. He said Layton officials seemed "genuinely not pleased that it came from an officer in their department."

But Swan also said he was frustrated Layton officials were not releasing the officer's name. Without identification — or any formal discipline record — he worries the officer will be easily obtain a job elsewhere.

"In our opinion he's a good officer who made a mistake," Crane said. "The mistake, unfortunately in this situation, became a national incident. It looks like [the meme was posted] in the heat of the conversation, between two individuals. Nonetheless, Layton has a standard."

lramseth@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lramseth

 

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