A police group in Missouri is receiving fierce criticism after declaring the anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown to be “Darren Wilson Day” in honor of the white police officer who fatally shot the black, unarmed teen on Aug. 9, 2014.
A post was placed on the Columbia Police Officers’ Association’s Facebook page on Sunday but has since been taken down. According to the local ABC affiliate, the post said “our support for Officer Wilson has nothing to do with race or anything else other than the fact that he was thoroughly investigated, twice, once by the state of Missouri and once by President Obama’s Justice Department, and BOTH investigations found he did NOTHING wrong.”
“Yet, he lost his job and his career (again…even though he was found to have done nothing wrong.),” the post continued. “So, yes, we stand by this innocent, but persecuted officer.”
A number of activists, politicians and the Columbia Police Department criticized the post.
In a statement, the police department said the post by the officers’ association “has served to inflame the emotions of some in our community” and that the CPD does not condone promoting “divisive messages in our community.”
The mayor of Columbia, Robert McDavid, called the post “insensitive and divisive,” adding, “Instead, our community and nation need to come together, communicate and understand.”
A St. Louis County grand jury chose not to indict Wilson, and the Department of Justice has cleared him of violating Brown’s civil rights.
While the initial post was taken down, the CPOA said on Monday, also on Facebook, that the “post on Sunday regarding Darren Wilson was interpreted in a manner that was not the intended message. In an effort to resolve the confusion, the CPOA wants to say this plainly: CPOA supports Officer Darren Wilson and all law enforcement officers who endure similar situations.”
Dale Roberts, the executive director of the CPOA, told msnbc the post was initiated by a Fraternal Order of Police lodge in St. Louis. “All we did was share the post. We did not have a celebration, or anything of the sort.”
A state of emergency was declared Monday afternoon in St. Louis County as more than 100 people were arrested on the second day of demonstrations marking the one-year anniversary of Brown’s death. Peaceful protests on Monday were stained by the eruption of violence Sunday night, when a young man was wounded in a gunfight with plainclothes detectives, following an exchange of gunfire between two rival groups.
The suspected gunman, identified as 18-year-old Tyrone Harris, was rushed to a nearby hospital for surgery and remained in critical condition, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said in a press conference early Monday. Harris faces multiple charges for possessing a weapon and assaulting officers.