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Brooklyn court officer fired six months after racist posts caused a storm

December 27, 2020 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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More than six months after she was suspended for putting up racist and offensive posts on Facebook targeting former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a state court officer who worked in Brooklyn has reportedly been fired.

Sgt. Terri Pinto Napolitano was terminated on Dec. 23 by George Silver, deputy chief administrative judge of the New York City courts, after he ruled on evidence that was presented on Napolitano’s disciplinary hearing, according to the New York Law Journal.

Napolitano’s Facebook posts were made in early June and, when they were discovered by the Law Journal and other publications, caused an uproar, according to an article in the Brooklyn Eagle on June 11. 

The posts reportedly showed Obama hanging from a noose under the headline “The True American Dream,” with the word “Traitor” underneath. She also put up a post that showed Hillary Clinton with the words, “It’s Not Over Till the Fat Lady Swings,” as Clinton is being escorted to the gallows.

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At the time, Napolitano was suspended for 30 days without pay and has had her gun taken away from her. The matter was referred to the Inspector General for investigation. Her conduct was roundly condemned by groups in the Brooklyn and New York City legal and law-enforcement communities.

Rev. Taharka Robinson stood with the Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition in front of the Kings County Supreme Court in June, as the group called for court officer Terri Pinto Napolitano to be fired. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

A Brooklyn group known as the Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition held a demonstration outside the Brooklyn Supreme Courthouse, demanding that she be fired. 

“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?”

Her own union, the NYS Court Officers Association, issued a statement against her conduct, the Eagle reported at the time. 

“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,” the union statement continued.

Napolitano, 57  years old at the time, worked in the Criminal Court at 120 Schermerhorn St. 

According to the website SeeThroughNY, she also tweeted the hashtag OBAMAGATE with her posts. Obamagate referred to a conspiracy theory popularized by President Donald Trump on May 10 that alleged that Obama had conspired to entrap President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, as part of an overall plot to bring Trump’s administration down.  The Associated Press issued a report in May that said there was “no evidence” that such a theory was true.

The Law Journal also reported that on June 6, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore sent a memo to court personnel saying that an “employee recently posted on Facebook a vile, racist photo depicting and advocating the lynching of an African American man and woman.” The memo also said the Facebook post is “abhorrent … at any time,” the Law Journal reported.

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