A Massachusetts police department that previously decried racism has rehired one of its former cops who retired following attention to his racist social media posts that encouraged police brutality against protesters and wished harm to immigrants.
Specifically, Michael Wilk posted about his desire for police officers to shoot people looting in New York City, shared an image of a purported immigrant being hurt by razor wire while crossing the border and seemingly supported the idea of police officers kneeling on suspects in a misguided comparison between to Colin Kaepernick‘s kneeling protest of the national anthem and Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd, according to MassLive.
It was in that context that the Chicopee Police Department not only decided Wilk was worthy of being rehired, but Chicopee’s mayor — who moved to remove Wilk from his job as department spokesperson in June of last year — inexplicably defended the decision to put the disgraced, likely racist cop back on the payroll.
Bishop Talbert Swan, the president of the NAACP’s chapter in Springfield, sent an email to Chicopee Mayor John Vieau questioning the decision to rehire Wilk.
“One year ago, after discovering racist social media posts by Officer Michael Wilk, you stated, ‘Racism has no place here in our city…no place at all,” Swan wrote in part to Vieau. “The Chicopee city council unanimously passed a resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis. You further stated, ‘We will not tolerate racism or hate in this city,'” Swan reminded the mayor.
Swan added later: “It is hard to fathom the rationale as to why Officer Wilk has been rehired a year after retiring following public outcry over his racist actions.”
Vieau, in turn, defended Wilk’s rehiring because he said the job would not be in the same capacity as his former position. It would appear the mayor is trying to justify rehiring Wilk because Wilk was never actually fired. Instead, he was extended the privilege of retiring.
Racist social media posts from public servants like police officers and firemen are hardly a new phenomenon. However, the situation in Chicopee seemed to be one of the first instances of a police officer who was ousted for racist actions being rehired by the same department.
Racist sentiments similar to those expressed by Wilk on social media were at the center of a fire chief in South Carolina who in April was placed on leave after he wrote on Facebook that cops should just ignore calls for help that come from Black communities.
“Dear Police, stop responding to these black neighborhoods,” McDonald Green Volunteer Fire Department Chief Francis “Butch” Ghent wrote in a since-deleted status update that was posted on April 22. “They will eventually kill each other and the fake news won’t have a story.”
This is America.