City officials, CPD criticize “Darren Wilson Day” Facebook post

The post has since been removed and the Columbia Police Officer’s Association said it was misinterpreted.

The Columbia Police Officers’ Association is under fire for a Facebook post Aug. 9 that designated that day “Darren Wilson Day,” which referenced the shooting and killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.

The post drew criticism from the Columbia Police Department and city officials. A protest was also held outside the department’s headquarters on Walnut and Seventh streets Aug. 10.

CPOA’s declaration of “Darren Wilson Day” coincided with events in Ferguson, Missouri, that marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting that prompted protests and a Justice department investigation. The peaceful protests turned violent late Sunday night when a man reportedly opened gunfire on police officers, who returned fire. The man was critically wounded, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

CPOA’s executive director, Dale Roberts, made the post. City Manager Mike Matthes has since called for Roberts’ resignation, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

“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,” stated the post, which has since been removed. “Yet, he lost his job and his career (again...even though he was found to have done nothing wrong.) So, yes, we stand by this innocent, but persecuted, officer.”

CPD said in a news release that they are a separate entity from CPOA, which is an informal police union, and that the department does not condone the use of social media to promote issues that are polarizing to the community.

“This post has served to inflame the emotions of some in our community,” the release said. “The Columbia Police Department is working hard to strengthen community relations in Columbia and is committed to developing positive relationships with the people we serve.”

Columbia Mayor Robert McDavid also took issue with the post in a statement on Facebook, labeling it as “insensitive” and called upon the community to “come together, communicate and understand.”

McDavid also restated the CPD’s sentiment that the CPOA “is a trade organization that is not accountable to the City of Columbia.”

CPOA wrote another Facebook post in response to the criticism, saying their post was “interpreted in a manner that was not the intended message” and that “CPOA supports Darren Wilson and all law enforcement officers who endure similar situations.”

Some comments on CPOA’s latest posting ranged from expressing disappointment at their post to some calling their actions “totally reprehensible.” However some are defending the written post by siding with the opinion of the CPOA saying, “I stand by Darren Wilson.”

Roberts could not be reached for comment.

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