Springfield, MA – A Springfield officer was “falsely characterized by the media” after he posted a comment to Facebook following the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, the police union said.
Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri announced on Friday that Springfield Officer Conrad Lariviere was fired for conduct that “discredited the department,” Mass Live reported.
The controversy surrounding Officer Lariviere began on Aug. 12, when he posted a comment on social media beneath a Daily Wire article titled, “HORROR: Car Plows Into Protesters in Charlottesville; One Dead, 19 Injured.”
“How many times has a car plowed into you, Conrad?” another commenter asked Officer Lariviere on the thread.
“Actually...I’ve been hit by a sh*tbag with warrants but who cares right you ignorant brat live in fantasy land with the rest of America while I deal with the real danger,” Officer Lariviere replied.
Officer Lariviere made the comments as a private citizen, and the Springfield Police Department had no policy regarding social media behavior at the time the statements were made, Mass Live reported.
The intent of Officer Lariviere’s post was to express “his abhorrence at the disorderly disruption of public safety and convenience caused by the demonstrators and counter-demonstrators in that community,” the Local 364, International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) police union said in a statement.
“At the time of the posting he did not know whether the motor vehicle which ran into a group of demonstrators was driven by an Alt Right supporter, or a counter-demonstrator, or may even have been the result of a medical event,” the union said.
“His point was that such disorderly behavior has serious consequences, and both sides of the dispute bore responsibility for the disruptions,” the union concluded.
But the media communicated that Officer Lariviere intended to convey a more sinister message.
The Facebook exchange was quickly picked up by a multitude of publications, many of which added their own spin to Officer Lariviere’s comments.
“A Springfield police officer has mocked the anti-racism demonstrators who were run down during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, applauding the fatal crash in a Facebook post,” Mass Live reported.
Thousands signed a petition demanding that the officer be fired, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno publicly condemned Officer Lariviere’s comments.
“Unbelievable! There is no place for this in our society, let alone from a Springfield Police Officer," Mayor Sarno told Mass Live.
Springfield City Councilors and the local chapter of the NAACP also criticized the officer, who was immediately reassigned to internal duties, Mass Live reported.
As the backlash began, Officer Lariviere attempted to clarify his statement, and expressed remorse for what he called “a stupid comment about people blocking the streets.”
"Never would I want someone to get murdered. I am not a racist and don't believe in what any of those protesters are doing," Officer Lariviere told Mass Live. “I am a good man.”
The IBPO said the media created a false characterization of Officer Lariviere by depicting him “as supportive of the Alt Right demonstrators, even as racist,” which other media outlets continued to perpetuate as truth.
While the IBPO noted that some may have found Officer Lariviere’s comments to be “insensitive,” they do not believe they warranted termination.
“We believe the termination is based on political considerations, not a fair, impartial assessment of the evidence,” the IBPO statement read. “We expect that Officer Lariviere will appeal his termination and we will support him in that process.”