On My Mind…The Offensive Posting on a Councilman’s Facebook Page…
Today, something showed up on my Facebook Page that I wasn’t expecting…
What it was, was a picture of a cartoon character flying the middle finger and urinating.
I simply recognized the offensiveness of the post, and didn’t want to expose my readers to it. It was something on a councilman’s Facebook Page that has created a stir. I honestly thought it was spam, and I even notified the councilman who it was posted about to alert him to it if he cared to respond, because he is someone that I know. I was actually feeling upset about it and as if my page was a place where a war was erupting. I told the person who posted it, he was spamming. And I put on a war face back, because I did not realize what was really shrouded with this cartoon. And the councilman has claimed to me he has not, as you will read later. I honestly thought it was someone flaming about something and using my Facebook Page as a place for it.
Now, this particular councilman and the police community have been at odds for a long time.
As a member of the media, I plan on following up to get more information on both sides.
I won’t deny I initially removed the picture, and the reason why is I didn’t want my readers exposed to the ugliness (I am also a parent and the last thing I need are my children seeing such a picture if they’re also walking by my computer or any other readers and their children).
At the same time, what a storm that followed because of its removal…the reason being that I did not realize the cartoon was urinating on the symbol that it above here…that is the symbol for fallen police officers. I obviously learned something new today.
I still don’t want my readers to see the picture because it is offensive but if you search through my feeds, you’ll see it.
But my apologies to those who were reaching out to me and trying to alert me to it, without my recognizing what the person was actually posting…as I did not know that was a symbol for fallen police officers. And I will know from now on.
I will state here, I do not support those type of postings and support police officers on the job, as well as their fallen. In fact, I publish releases for the local departments…and just this morning as this drama was unfolding, I have written a story for one of the other publications that I freelance for, about a retired police officer, who just passed away unexpectedly in our area.
Now, I will say, I have good working relationships with the police in our area and council people…and I have connections on Facebook and LinkedIn with both (including the councilman, as well as officers who have commented on my page). For the most part, I try to get along with everyone.
The councilman, David Fanale, I know has had issues with Roxbury Township Police Officers that has set him up in arms against that department and officers now overall…and things have been downhill since. I have learned his side of the story and how he and a member of his family have said that they were badly intimidated by an officer…his family member is female and was in tears during the situation. I know her personally and she is a very gentle and sweet person.
This has turned into a war between Mr. Fanale and officers of the community and beyond, because of postings he has made on the topic of law enforcement and his bashings.
One of his posts, which I have linked to here, has gone viral and has caused a great upset to the police community.
While I understand that the traffic stop may have been something that turned unpleasant and both Mr. Fanale and his fiancée felt threatened, he has the right to speak about this…but to refer to the police chief publicly as a pig, and the officers as “two maggots of society,” is completely uncalled for and defamation of character of all of these individuals. It’s OK to mention if we don’t agree with something, but to do it in a way that is so derogatory isn’t right.
I will address this as a family member of police officers, as well as a family member of people who served on council…this is more than inappropriate. My grandfather as a councilman never referred to police as pigs, or was disrespectful to them. He worked closely with them, as well as the ambulance squad and fire departments. I have an award in my home, in fact, that he received for his work with the emergency squad, that had been his (my grandfather passed away in 2007).
You don’t call police officers pigs, whether you are a councilman or a citizen. You don’t call them maggots either. Granted there are bad in every profession there are also plenty of good too that far outweigh the bad).
I will admit, I was once intimidated by a police officer who was using his position to intimidate me when I was a 21-year-old security guard during my college years (yes, I worked in security and worked with officers in that capacity…in fact, I took the police test years ago for my county…scored pretty well too..). I was working in a situation where this officer began screaming at me off duty because he wanted to acquire a wheel chair from us for use in the mall for his elderly mother, and our policy was we needed his driver’s license. He started telling me what I was doing was illegal with requesting his license, started talking about his gun, and more. I finally consented and gave him the wheel chair without any more issue, then told my supervisor. When the man returned the chair, he didn’t say a word to my supervisor. I personally feel he was harassing me because I was a young and small statured female.
I won’t deny there are bad apples, such as that guy was to me…I won’t deny he didn’t humiliate me and put me into tears that day. At the same time, I would not refer to him in a derogatory manner or more…nor would I hold his entire profession accountable for his actions…and to do so in this age when there is social media and more as Mr. Fanale is doing, is not right to the many officers who conduct themselves with decency and professionalism. The thousands and thousands of outstanding police officers out there far outweigh those officers who are dirty. And sadly, we hear less about the good ones than we do the officers who have not served as they should. And in the police field there are plenty of good. And in my mind, most police officers are. But the media likes to emphasize the belligerent ones. In fact, someone just posted a video to my site from YouTube yesterday.
Then again, there are belligerent and jerky people in every profession, including mine. And including yours…and including the next guy’s or gal’s. But for the most part, most people conduct themselves with professionalism in their jobs.
What is best for me as a reporter would be to get a full story on this incident between Mr. Fanale and the officers to learn more. Whatever happened, it does not warrant the entire profession to be under attack.
And when you are both working for municipalities (or volunteering as a council member), aren’t you on the same team anyway as council and police? (this question is geared towards Mr. Fanale). In the hours of council meetings I have sat in for many municipalities from Sussex County to Union County and counties in between, I have never seen council and police at war with one another.
It’s important for us, however, to get to know our police departments for the positive that they do for our communities and protecting us overall. It’s also important to get to know what’s going on with our local government, and to sift through the facts and fiction that go on there (food for thought on a whole other topic, if you’d like to check it out too here regarding one of our local governments).
Police who, on a daily basis, run in to help others without any thought as to the impact that call can be on their family…they, like council people, have taken a sworn oath to protect the people in their keep, and most of them abide by that and follow it. I am very grateful to the police in my town and beyond, who help to keep all of us safe, no matter the weather, the season, the holiday, the time of day, and the circumstances.
When I informed Mr. Fanale that officers were upset by what he had posted, and I inquired why he had posted it… he asked me if I was sure it was a fallen officer’s logo and he countered that he thought it was a police pride logo. He asked if I was certain when I told him it looked like the fallen officer’s logo and he told me he was removing it until he found out for sure.
I need to ask him, why he wants to continue posting stuff like that? Posting a logo that’s offensive to police pride too is equally terrible if that’s what Mr. Fanale’s point was. I’m sure if someone from a police department posted an offensive picture about their mayor and council, it would be upsetting and the officer(s) who posted that would have an issue with their chief and the council. Why should a member of a council, who should be upheld to a higher standard, do something like this? While he is entitled to express his opinion, when it is defaming others, or an entire profession as that picture was, that’s not right.
But I don’t think it’s appropriate to keep hearing from me, I’d like to share what others have written to me on this topic, including some from across the country. And Mr. Fanale will also have the chance to speak if he’d like to respond, whether here or in a new article (I’m anticipating that, as I see it as a fairly talked about topic), as now my eyes and attention are on this.
Here’s what others have said:
Kelly Ann Hart (Campaign Manager for Murray Sabrin) – a note she has allowed me to post and with permission, which she sent to Mr. Fanale: – “I don’t know what you are trying to accomplish anymore, other than letting everyone know your hate for law enforcement. You are supposed to be a leader in the community and you have taken that right and made the choice to allow your emotions to guide you. It’s your job to guide your constituency = YOU are second to them. Isn’t that exactly what we preach? It’s WE THE PEOPLE, Dave… not ME AND THEN THE PEOPLE. Your disrespect for the fallen is disturbing, to say the least. I’m not talking about your First Amendment – say it all you want. There are consequences. This is the most disturbing display of emotional recklessness I have ever witnessed. If you are going to be an anarchist, your constituency should be aware and you should probably resign at this point because THIS is not who they voted for.”
“Joh Toch” (this is a police officer who is using a pseudonym online to protect his identity, but was one of the initial people who contacted me…I asked if he could use his real name and he explained why he uses a pseudonym on here…now I get it, especially after what I’ve seen here): “So, is the problem then still with me and me protecting my face? So I can do my job, without getting killed. So you can enjoy your freedom of speech and sleep safely at night while we protect the very things you love? I do hope you reconsider your views and tell your community what the councilman is really about…”
(thank you…I get it now….)
Erika Simmons: Calling us “punks in blue” “Maggots of society” How can he possibly sit on council and have ANY say when it comes to my brothers and sisters in blue. thank you for looking into the matter as we, Law Enforcement are a huge family and we are only looking out for each other. We acknowledge we have a lot of supporters as well as those who wish us harm… and it is a sad day when you have to lump a council member in the latter group. His profile is made public which is how I obtained the information, feel free to look for yourself. Again, a thank you from myself as well as my brothers and sisters in blue.
Daniel Sist: I’m glad that you are going to look into it. An elected official with a degree of authority over the police department showing such a disgusting level of disrespect for the profession is sickening. I’m sure whoever left that disgusting caricature on this page meant no offense and was merely trying to bring the topic to your attention.
Michael J. Burke: I called Franklin NJ spoke to the Town Administrator he said I could come to a council meeting or write a letter. No outrage in his voice no sense of condemnation not even surprised. I worked in NYPD I am a former NJ resident over 20 years this type of attack on Police officers is sickening.
Ian Roberts: Thank you! Having served as a Police Officer and having lost dear friends in the line of duty, I am disgusted beyond words at the comments made by this individual. His depiction of a cartoon character urinating on the symbol of respect for our fallen Brothers and Sisters is reprehensible. Regardless of his own interaction with law enforcement (certainly as a result of something HE did to draw attention to himself), he must have forgotten the terrorist attacks of 9/11 where 72 law enforcement officers lost their lives to terrorists who attacked this nation. He has never stood at attention, fighting back tears, as Taps plays and a folded flag is handed to a grieving widow and her children, Husband and Father having been gunned down by an armed robber who was intent on robbing and possibly killing an innocent victim. He has not walked into the home of a widow whose Husband will not come home again as he was intentionally rammed by a fleeing felon, nor has he hugged a child that asks, “When is Daddy coming home.” He has not been there for that widow over the years after the loss, listening to him see his Father’s car sit in the driveway, yet hearing his Mom explain again that Daddy is not coming home. He has not seen that child slowly start to call that car, “Mommy’s car” only to have the still grieving Mother say, “It will always be Daddy’s.” He has not stood there fighting back the tears at seeing this. I have. He is clueless, amidst his own anger and ignorance as to what this nations law enforcement does while he sits in safety in front of his computer, while the men and women I am blessed and honored to call Brothers and Sisters suit up and risk it all for a complete stranger, knowing but not thinking of what could happen. His political rants go beyond the reasonable and fail to recognize that the majority of law enforcement are of conservative values, where respect for the Constitution and the rights of the individual are paramount. In short, Mr. Fanale obviously has a personal axe to grind with law enforcement and his actions seemingly the result of his personal vendetta. An individual such as this has no business holding public office, especially one where he could use his position to retaliate against those that he perceives as the enemy in such things as contract negotiations, an area where those who serve the citizens of New Jersey are already being seriously hurt. Mr. Fanale, as a result of his election to public office and as a result of his hateful and biased comments, now open him to public scrutiny over his true motives for not only his having sought election, but for the true reasoning behind his comments. Given time, I believe he will provide cause for a case against him for abusing his position as an elected official and breach of the public trust. Any person elected is so elected to REPRESENT the will of the people, regardless of personal opinion. I do not believe that the will of the people is to desecrate the memory of the over 150 average law enforcement officers who each year make the ultimate sacrifice service to the citizens of this great nation. I similarly do not believe that he represents his community or the businesses that stand to suffer as a result of his comments and actions. Lastly, I believe it is appropriate for the citizens of his community to act now to remove him from office. Thank you.
Craig Polen: The majority of the people writing you are part of my Facebook group that has raised 32,000 this year to take police officers kids Christmas shopping. I run the group and 23 were taken last year because of this fine group. We have active and retired. They love the brotherhood and protect the families of the fallen. Thank you for your time.
Julie Glaser Howery: Thank you for looking into this. I am sure the “Councilman’s” (I use that term loosely) explanation will be to his own interaction with the police in Roxbury and his right to free speech. That’s fine. He may be 100% right to have an issue with them. But to paint the thousands of other law enforcement officers with the same brush is lazy, immature — and to be honest – frightening for an elected official.
Glen Franklin: Thank you from Ky. As you can see from my profile picture, we sometimes have to give a lot to do this job. Statements and acts such as this councilman’s are not only discourteous, but hurtful to many people in our profession. I have spent over 40 years paying for some felon’s act and do not in any way feel that this man’s actions as a public official should go unnoticed by the public.
As far as free speech – he’s right. He won’t be persecuted (ie: prosecuted) for voicing his opinion, but he can certainly be held accountable in his profession/position. No different than many other public workers have in the past.
Kathleen Sonny: Thank you, Ret. Sgt. Chicago Police Department.
There are many more on my Facebook Page that keep coming in check them out.
A letter that a retired NYPD Officer sent to me and sent to Mayor Crowley:
Dear Mayor Crowley, As a retired NYC Police Officer and a Survivor of the Shield ( my wife Police Officer Moira Smith was killed during the Terrorist Attacks of 9-11), I have to voice my complaint that a member of your Borough Council David Fanale has a Facebook profile picture of a boy giving the middle finger while urinating on the symbol of the Thin Blue Line. This symbol represents the ultimate sacrifices made by Law Enforcement men and women throughout this country. I find it hard to believe that the people of Franklin ,New Jersey support this disgusting and disrespectful act by a public official. Please let me know what, if anything , you can do to restore the confidence of the Law Enforcement community in its elected officials in Franklin, New Jersey? Sincerely, James J. Smith, NYPD (Ret.)
On My Mind: I am looking forward to a further response from Mr. Fanale on this topic (he responded by taking down the picture, again, stating he was not aware that that was the fallen officer symbol). I am sure I will be writing about this again soon.
What do you think? (comments welcome below from all sides…those that are derogatory or defamatory will not be posted).
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