Free Approved Speech
A Black Lives Matter activist with roughly a half-million followers on social media warned that “all hell” will break loose if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is not convicted
By Kevin Shea | For NJ.com Updated May 05, 2021; Posted May 03, 2021 8,212
Hopewell Township has fired a police officer who described Black Lives Matter protesters as “terrorists” and will suspend and demote another for replying to a comment on the Facebook post.
The fired officer, Sara Erwin, and Sgt. Mandy Grey, who will be suspended for six months, are exemplary and decorated officers with “absolutely no disciplinary history,” their lawyer Frank Crivelli said Monday evening.
The town’s actions against them, he said, are “disgraceful and cowardice.”
The town took the action Friday evening through its council, which voted unanimously to accept the recommendations of a hearing officer, lawyer Brian P. Trelease.
Councilwoman Julie Blake, who serves as mayor, declined to discuss the matter, citing personnel confidentiality.
Erwin made the post in question in June 2020.
It said: “Last night as I left for work I had my two kids crying for me not to go to work. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the way I did last night. And then I watched people I know and others I care about going into harms way. I love my police family like my own. So when you share posts and things on Facebook I’d really appreciate if you’d THINK before doing so. I’ve seen so many black lives matter [sic] hashtags in these posts. Just to let you know — they are terrorists. They hate me. They hate my uniform. They don’t care if I die.”
Initially, Erwin and several employees who reacted to the post were investigated and placed on leave, police said at the time. Shortly after it was made, then Police Chief Lance Maloney apologized to the community for the post.
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office investigated, found no criminal behavior and it was sent back to the township for department handling, a prosecutor’s office spokesperson said.
The Facebook post, and a semi-related lawsuit by another veteran officer who claimed discrimination in the department, led to a petition and protests in town that called for change in the department.
The town last year, following the retirement of Maloney, opted for a civilian police director to lead the department.
Robert “Bob” Karmazin, a retired New Jersey State Police captain with military experience, started in the role late last year. He declined comment Monday.