CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart was moving to temporarily strip as many as seven deputies of their police powers after the county’s public defender complained that deputies had apparently posted insulting and threatening comments online after a march in support of Black Lives Matter, his spokesman said Friday.
Spokesman Matt Walberg said the investigation to identify the deputies and then move to “de-deputize” those linked to the posts comes a day after Dart’s office launched an internal probe in response to a letter from Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli.
In her letter sent Thursday, Campanelli asked Dart and Inspector General Patrick Blanchard to discipline, or, if appropriate, fire the deputies behind the posts.
Campanelli also informed Dart, whose office runs the jail, and Blanchard that the posts had appeared online after about 200 people, including many public defenders, participated in a demonstration Monday at the county jail in Chicago.
A Facebook comment purportedly posted by a deputy assigned to the Leighton Criminal Court Building reads: “Good luck to them all when the courts open up!”
Campanelli also cited a post that reads: “Bring in the fire hoses and horses this is not a protest.”
She questioned how she or anyone else could have confidence that people in custody are receiving housing, food and being treated “equitably and humanely” by “the custodians of the jail.”
Demonstrations and unrest spread to Chicago and other cities around the U.S. following the May 25 killing in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd. A white officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after the handcuffed black man stopped moving and pleading for air.
“The very purpose of our protest, as was the purpose of all protests around the country, was to oppose racism and discrimination exhibited by law enforcement,” Campanelli wrote in the letter. “Now, posted on social media as a banner for all to see, members of law enforcement are expressing their intolerance for justice and even suggesting there will be consequences to my staff and my clients.”
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