Police officer fired for suggesting US Congresswoman should be shot

Ocasio-Cortez blamed President Donald Trump's rhetoric for Rispoli's comment.

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"This is Trump's goal when he uses targeted language & threatens elected officials who don't agree w/ his political agenda," she wrote on Twitter. "It's authoritarian behaviour. The President is sowing violence. He's creating an environment where people can get hurt & he claims plausible deniability."

Ocasio-Cortez and three other minority freshman congresswomen dubbed "the Squad" have become frequent targets of Trump, who said the four citizens and members of Congress should "go back" to the "totally broken and crime infested places from which they came".

The firings of the two Louisiana officers come amid a reckoning with racist and violent social media posts by police and federal law enforcement officers. As posts have been made public, firings and investigations have followed across multiple departments.

In an interview with nola.com, Lawson initially called Rispoli's comment "disturbing" and probably in violation of department social media policies, but he stopped short of describing it as a threat.

Trump has continued to criticise four congresswomen (L-R) Rashida Tlaib, llhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.

Trump has continued to criticise four congresswomen (L-R) Rashida Tlaib, llhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.Credit:AP

By Monday afternoon, however, Lawson told reporters that Rispoli and Varisco had been fired. The chief said the department had inquired with Facebook to learn whether other officers had liked, commented or otherwise interacted with the post before terminating Varisco.

Rispoli's comment was made in response to a post on a self-described satirical page, tatersgonnatate.com, with the headline "Ocasio-Cortez on the Budget: 'We Pay Soldiers Too Much'".

Lawson reiterated at the news conference that he did not think Rispoli's Facebook post was a legitimate threat.

Rispoli was a 14-year veteran of the Gretna Police Department. Varisco had served for less than three years.

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Both men performed security detail in a local government building that contains a courtroom and Gretna City Hall, and Rispoli recently worked as part of a program that supervised people placed under house arrest. Neither had served on the streets as patrol officers, nola.com reported, and the only two arrests made between them took place inside the courtroom.

After speaking with Rispoli, Lawson said on Monday afternoon that the officer was apologetic for the post. He indicated that Rispoli made a bad decision "in the heat of the moment".

Police officers nationwide have faced waves of scrutiny following investigations of social media posts by 3,500 current and former police officers published by the nonprofit Plain View Project. In Philadelphia alone, 72 officers were pulled from street duty. The department plans to fire 13 of them for violent, racist and homophobic posts.

Rispoli's comments appear to be on his page marked for friends and friends of friends only. It was not clear how his comments found their way to nola.com, which originally published them.

"Whether you agree or disagree with the message of these elected officials and how frustrated you may or may not get, this certainly is not the type of thing that a public servant should be posting," said Lawson, the police chief.

The Washington Post

  • Social media
  • Cyber bullying
  • USA
  • US Congress

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