The assistant chief of a small-town police force initially defended his viral racist post.
Estherwood, Louisiana, is so small it has no Census designation. The village of roughly 1,000 in Arcadia Parish nonetheless has its own police force — and that force has one fewer senior officer as of Wednesday morning.
Assistant Chief Wayne Welsh resigned late Tuesday, about 48 hours after he posted the following anti-interracial dating meme to his Facebook page:
Welsh initially defended the post, according to local ABC affiliate KATC, writing that “It’s not against the law to share something on Facebook,” mentioning the “race card” in response to critics, and writing that “Facebook police mad at me.”
Welsh’s Facebook page is public. The post and Welsh’s efforts to defend it spread quickly. By Tuesday afternoon, one local civic leader had pledged to review Welsh’s internet activity at the next council meeting — a promise later rescinded by Estherwood Mayor Anthony Borill. By evening, Welsh’s boss had announced the assistant chief’s resignation.
Estherwood is an overwhelmingly white enclave within a more diverse parish. Acadia Parish is close to 20 percent black and Latino, according to the Census Bureau, but Estherwood itself is almost 93 percent of residents were Caucasian as of 2014, according to City-Data.
Welsh is the latest American law enforcement official to expose personal bigotry through their internet activity and text message conversations.
The Chief of Staff in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office — the largest sheriff’s office in the country — resigned in 2016 after his habit of forwarding racist emails to friends was revealed by reporters. A Department of Justice investigation following the killing of Michael Brown found that Ferguson, Missouri officers repeatedly made racist jokes in emails to one another.
Officers in San Francisco were caught texting a mix of racist jokes and outright calls to lynch black people in 2015. Senior officials in neighboring Oakland were fired following the publication of similar exchanges. A Miami cop lost his job in February after emailing racist memes including “a photo of a black child in a KFC bucket with the caption ‘Rare photo of Obama in his bassinet’.” Three Ft. Lauderdale officers were fired and a fourth resigned in 2015 after their habit of sending images of Klansmen with mocking captions was exposed to the public.
The post that led to Welsh stepping down was not a one-off incident, according to the local ABC station. One previous post described women in burkas as “trash bags,” for example.
“He also posts multiple positive items about the Dallas Cowboys and President Donald Trump,” the station noted.
Senior Louisiana cop resigns after posting anti-black meme to Facebook was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.