Advocates call for court officer to be fired over racist Facebook post
After a Brooklyn court officer was suspended for posting a racist meme of President Barack Obama on her Facebook account, a group of activists held a protest in front of the Kings County Supreme Court on Wednesday calling for her to be fired.
Court officer Terry Pinto Napolitano allegedly posted a meme that showed President Obama hanging from a noose under the headline “The True American Dream,” with the word “Traitor” underneath. She also posted a meme that appeared to depict former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the words, “It’s Not Over Till the Fat Lady Swings” as Clinton is escorted to the gallows.
“This man right here has done nothing to this woman,” said Bruce Green, president of the Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition, as he pointed to a photo of President Obama. “She doesn’t even know him, but she’s suggesting the death of a father, a husband, a former president. You’re threatening this man’s life and suggesting that someone hangs here. What are we talking about here? What right do you have to someone else’s life?”
Napolitano was suspended for 30 days without pay and has had her gun taken away from her. The matter has been referred to the Inspector General for investigation, according to a spokesperson for the Office of Court Administration.
Napolitano, a 57-year-old who worked in the Criminal Court at 120 Schermerhorn St., has been denounced by her union, the NYS Court Officers Association, who issued a statement Saturday.
“It has come to our attention that a [court officer] has recently posted on Facebook a vile, racist photo depicting and advocating the lynching of an African-American man and woman,” the statement issued by the NYSCOA said.
“This conduct is abhorrent, by anyone, at any time, and under any circumstances. But at this critical moment in our history — when our nation is reeling from the death of George Floyd and its aftermath — it is a sickening and unpardonable offense against every colleague in our court system, as well as the vast and diverse public that we serve.”
Napolitano, who earned $128,225 as a court officer in 2018, according to the website SeeThroughNY, also tweeted the hashtag OBAMAGATE with her posts. Obamagate refers to a conspiracy theory popularized by President Donald Trump on May 10, one day after Obama publicly criticized Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Associated Press issued a report in May that said there was “no evidence” that such a theory was true and that there was “nothing illegal” about the administration’s conduct in regards to Trump’s accusations.
According to a report by the New York Law Journal, Napolitano cannot be fired until after an investigation of her conduct is completed due to her union’s collective bargaining agreement. The investigation will be completed by Inspector General Sherrill Spatz. Napolitano will be able to request an administrative hearing if she does not agree with Spatz’s recommendation.
Advocates on Wednesday explained that they are especially concerned about Napolitano’s conduct because it could affect the court’s commitment to equal justice.
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