SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Chapter of the NAACP has thrown its support behind an investigation into a Springfield police officer’s Facebook posts mocking the death of an activist during a white nationalists demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia Sunday, But, Chapter President Rev. Talbot W. Swan II also called for “full transparency” from police investigators.
One woman was killed and 19 others injured, some critically when an apparent neo-Nazi demonstrator drove his car into a group of counter-protesters. Two Virginia State Police troopers were killed when the helicopter they were in crashed as it supported police crowd control.
Swan said Monday night that he had talked with Police Commissioner John Barbieri about the investigation he ordered into Patrolman Conrad Lariviere’s alleged posts on Facebook.
“I talked with the Commissioner about what we were looking for in this investigation,” Swan said. “I told him we need to see transparency.”
Swan said the community needs to be able to see how the investigation is conducted from beginning to end.
“We need a process that is transparent to the public all the way. Not something that is done behind closed doors, (with) the public getting a result sometime in the future.”
Swan said the investigation must look into the Laviere’s fitness to serve as a police officer given the statements made in the posts.
“The fitness to serve in the capacity of a police officer by anyone who gives public voice to such blatant insensitivity should be immediately evaluated,” Swan said in the statement. “if the allegations regarding Office Laviere are valid he has demonstrated a serious lapse in judgement, something that could mean the difference between life and death in the line of duty.”
Swan issued a statement Monday evening denouncing the Virginia demonstration. The rally was supposed to test the freedom of speech for racist and white supremacy organizations. Talbot said even the freedom of speech has limits.
“Freedom of speech can be expressed without violence. It is apparent that the main purpose of those protesting had every intention to wreak havoc and breed hate and discontent throughout the community,” Swan said.
Racists elements have been emboldened by what Swan called, “…rhetoric and actions of those at the highest levels of authority,” an apparent reference to President Trump’s initial statement Sunday blaming both demonstrators and counter-demonstrators for the violence.