Louisville Metro officials condemned a Facebook post made by the River City FOP Lodge 614 on Wednesday.
The post criticized the new Civilian Review and Accountability Board, which was announced last year as part of an effort to repair the relationship between Louisville Metro Police and city residents. It included a link to an article about a New York man who killed a police officer in 1981 and now sits on an advisory panel for police reform.
“Louisville Metro Council isn’t far behind with their recent confirmations of Mayor Fischer’s nominations,” the post said. “Is this what Louisville needs and wants?”
The post was made early Wednesday morning and remained on the FOP page throughout most of the day. It was taken down shortly after 3 p.m., when Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Council members held a press conference to address the situation.
FOP Lodge 614 press secretary Dave Mutchler told WFPL he deleted the post because it was “taken out of context.”
“We were trying to convey the slippery slope that can be involved with extremism,” he said. “By that, I mean it starts somewhere. If it’s OK to have people on a review panel in Louisville that hate police, where does that stop? But we were definitely not making any accusation that any member of the citizen review board was a criminal or a murderer of police.”
Last week, council members approved Fischer’s 11 nominees for the board, including Antonio Taylor and Stachelle Bussey. Their nominations were met with pushback due to past social media posts that were critical of LMPD.
“Everyone had to know that that would be an issue and would feel divisive to the members of the police department,” Mutchler said. “With this story out of New York, where are we going? At some point, is it OK just to have people on a board like that [who] assaulted police? Is it OK to have people that just shot at the police? Then we get to what happened in New York, where we have people that actually murdered police on these boards. We don’t want to go down that road.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, Fischer called the post an attempt to create division and delegitimize the board. If it’s going to perform its duties effectively, he said the members must be able to earn the trust of residents.
“For our new civilian review board to earn that trust, it must include a cross-section of people from throughout our city — people with varying experiences and points of view, including those who may have been critical of police actions in the past,” he said. “This is one of the reasons why I nominated, very intentionally, two people that were seen by the community as active and legitimate within the protest community. Those voices have to be on the civilian review board.”
Council member Jessica Green said Bussey and Taylor have received threats throughout the approval process. She saw the FOP post as a veiled threat that could put both members at greater risk.
During the press conference, Green called on the FOP to fire the person responsible for the post.
“Either those comments represent the isolated, ridiculous views of one misguided person, or we’re saying they represent the culture of the entire FOP,” she said. “Either way we slice it or dice it, it’s sad. But if those comments… do not represent the feelings of the FOP as an organization, they need to be removed immediately. Those comments represent the worst example of community and police relations that I’ve seen in a long time, and they represent the best example of why people are so angry and why they continue to protest in the streets.”
Mutchler said the FOP knows who made the post but declined to identify that person, saying it will be handled internally.