It’s been one year since former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, Jr. in the small St. Louis suburb, but while protesters across the country held rallies to remember Brown and affirm Black lives, one Missouri police union had a completely different idea—honoring Brown’s killer.
In a now-deleted post on the Columbia Police Officers Association’s Facebook page, the union declared Sunday, August 9 as Darren Wilson Day. In it, they called Wilson “an innocent, but persecuted, officer,” who “was thoroughly investigated … and found he did NOTHING wrong.”
While some officers in Columbia, Missouri may have wanted to celebrate Wilson for killing an unarmed young man, city officials weren’t happy.
Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton called the post offensive and attended a community rally on Monday at the police station.
“I found the post offensive, and I thought I needed to stand with the community and say what the police department thinks about it,” Burton said at the protest. “It was insensitive at best, and provocative at worst.”
Columbia PD also put out its own statement distancing itself from the union.
“The Columbia Police Department is a separate entity from CPOA and does not in any way condone the use of social media, or any other medium, to promote divisive messages in our community,” the statement read. “The Columbia Police Department will not allow a statement such as this to hinder our constant efforts to open the lines of communication with all people in our community.”
Columbia’s mayor, Robert McDavid, said the Facebook post “reflected poorly on the brave and dedicated men and women of the Columbia Police Department.”
After the initial Facebook post came under attack, the Columbia Police Officers Association deleted it and replaced with another post reaffirming its support for Wilson.
“The CPOA’s post on Sunday regarding Darren Wilson was interpreted in a manner that was not the intended message,” the organization wrote. “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.”
Predictably, Twitter erupted at the mention of “Darren Wilson Day.”
I have nothing but respect for police that truly protect and serve, but if you celebrate Darren Wilson Day, I hope you get hit by a bus.
— Alexis (@TheNotoriousLEX) August 10, 2015
No one should be declaring Darren Wilson Day given how the legal system failed in Ferguson. My slide show: http://t.co/t6jg9SM8zn
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) August 10, 2015
No surprise that the same police union who wants 8/9 to be "Darren Wilson Day" also called Mike Brown's memorial "a pile of trash."
— #MIKEBROWNCOVERUP (@mikebrowncover) August 10, 2015
The same people who are calling for a State of Emergency & asking for calm have declared today Darren Wilson Day. Yes, really.
— PoliticalGroove (@PoliticalGroove) August 10, 2015
Thank god there's a Darren wilson day, I almost wasn't totally furious.
— brendan kelly (@badsandwich) August 10, 2015
— Anthony LaMesa (@ajlamesa) August 10, 2015
Darren Wilson Day? I swear white ppl are the cruelest ppl on earth. White Devils forreal.
— Lil Boo (@_KingBritt) August 10, 2015
As “Darren Wilson Day” angered many across social media a hacker, or hackers, replaced the police union’s site with some simple message: Black Lives Matter.
— Staci D Kramer (@sdkstl) August 10, 2015