Layton officer resigns after posting offensive image to NAACP leader's Facebook page

Friday , June 16, 2017 - 6:47 PM3 comments

NADIA PFLAUM, Standard-Examiner staff

LAYTON — An officer with the Layton Police Department has resigned after admitting to posting an offensive image on the Facebook page of a Massachusetts civil rights group leader, according to city officials. 

On June 6, Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Springfield, Massachusetts chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) posted commentary on the trial of comedian Bill Cosby on Facebook. In a reply, a Facebook user posted a image that Swan considered racially offensive. 

The image or meme, according to reverse image searches, showed an ancient Egyptian depiction of circumcision, with dark-complected individuals kneeling before standing men with lighter skin. The text, which appears to have been added via a meme-generating website, reads,  “WE WUZ KANGZ!” across the top. At bottom: “No. You were [expletive] washers.”

The meme was posted under the pseudonym “Woden Muninn,” but based on other information on the page, Swan determined the profile originated in Utah, and that its author was affiliated with law enforcement.

He reached out to the Salt Lake chapter of the NAACP, which sparked an investigation that pointed to the Layton Police Department, according to KTSU Fox 13

The Layton police officer deleted the meme, but Swan captured it and posted it to his own page again June 8, with the caption, “#Racism This was posted on my page by a LAYTON, UTAH POLICE OFFICER #WodenMuninn. Guess he didn't read my profile. #StayWoke #BlackLivesMatter #BigMistake”

A Layton police spokesman referred questions to the city attorney’s office. That office responded to the Standard-Examiner by providing a press release.

“A City employee, on their private time, posted a response consisting of a meme, adding language that was clearly in violation of Layton City standard (sic),” the press release said.

Gary Crane, Layton city attorney, also provided text from the city’s social media policy. Relevant details include: 

  • Employees are strongly discouraged from posting information regarding off-duty activity that may bring their reputation into question. Violations of this policy may subject an employee to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
  • Employees are prohibited from posting content that is inconsistent with their duties and obligations and that tends to compromise or damage the mission, function, reputation, or professionalism of Layton City or its employees.
  • Except in the performance of an authorized duty, City employees shall not post, transmit, reproduce, and/or disseminate information (text, pictures, video, audio, etc.) to the internet or any other forum (public or private) that would tend to discredit or reflect unfavorably upon the City or any of the City’s employee’s or elected officials.

The Layton police officer was “very cooperative” and admitted to posting the meme, the press release said. The officer was placed on administrative leave for one day and then resigned, Layton attorney Crane confirmed. 

Crane said that as city attorney, he has made the determination not to release the name or any other details of the officer’s employment with the city. 

Jeanetta Williams of the Salt Lake NAACP chapter responded to questions about the incident by reiterating, via email, “The officer resigned within a day after he was talked to by the Layton Police Department.”

Calls to the Ogden chapter of the NAACP were not immediately returned. 

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