A police officer from Coconut Creek, Florida is facing calls for his resignation after he wrote a post on Facebook that expressed his hope that someone would run over Parkland student activist David Hogg after he and other survivors of shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School demonstrated against the NRA at a local supermarket.
Hogg and the other student protestors held a “die-in” on Friday in the parking lot of a Publix supermarket in nearby Coral Springs to pressure the grocery chain to cease its substantial political donations to the gun-manufacturer lobbyists at the National Rifle Association.
Coconut Creek police officer Brian Valenti, a member of the department’s K-9 force, heard about the protest and was inspired to post a comment to a Coral Springs-Parkland Facebook page with a story about the “die-in” and a photo of David Hogg, one of the most recognizable of the Parkland survivors, with the caption:
“Hope some old lady looses [sic] control of her car in that lot. Jus sayin…”
The backlash against Valenti’s now-deleted comment started immediately with one anonymous Facebook user responding:
“What a lovely thing to say about kids who experienced what they’ve been through. Examine your core values.”
Facebook user Kim Simonson quickly chimed in with this comment:
“Whether someone agrees with these students or not, it is in very poor taste for a police officer to make the following comment regarding students that have just been through a tragic shooting.”
“What’s more frightening is that he appears to be a police officer and saying that,” she added.
Whether because he had completed his examination of his core values or because he was outed as a policeman and realized the possible consequences of his actions, Valenti deleted his comment, but not before Simonson captured a screenshot of it and sent it in an email to the Coconut Creek Police Chief and local commissioners, urging that the 23-year veteran officer be suspended or fired, according to an account of the incident in the Broward County Sun-Sentinal newspaper.
“Rod Skirvin, a union leader and recently retired Coconut Creek detective, described Valenti as ‘distraught’ over the incident,” the paper reported.
“He feels terrible and is very willing to apologize in person,” Skirvin said. “We are going to speak to the chief on Tuesday when he goes back to work. There will be disciplinary repercussions for him.”
The Chief of the Coconut Creek Police replied to Simonson’s complaint with an email stating that Valenti’s comments were “unprofessional and inappropriate” and that the officer would apologize for what he considered a bad joke.
Simonson, for her part, was unmollified by the offer of what she called “a meaningless apology.”
“The fact that he stated to you that he considers running over children with a car to be a joke, should definitely send off some alarm bells in the heads of the supervisors in your town,” she wrote back to the chief. “That isn’t the type of person I would like representing my community all over Facebook and beyond.”
Despite the commotion over the local policeman’s comments, the best news about the whole story is the fact that as a result of the protest by Hogg and his fellow activists, the Publix supermarket chain announced that it was ending its contributions to the NRA and all other political campaigns.
It looks like it was the NRA that was metaphorically run over in the end, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving organization.
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