By Amanda Garrett Beacon Journal
Posted November 12th 2018
(PHOTO: AKRON POLICE SPOKESMAN LT RICK EDWARDS)
LOUIS FARRAKHAN AND SUSPENDED AKRON OFFICER JAMES ANTHONY
A long-serving Akron police officer is on paid leave while the city investigates something he said on Facebook about Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan Sr.
The city has not publicly identified the officer nor shared what he wrote.
But WKYC has reported the officer wrote that he “wonders how it is that no one has ‘offed’ Farrakhan.”
The television station provided no context around the officer’s Oct. 30 Facebook comment, nor whether it was part of a larger conversation about Farrakhan, race, religion or something else.
An Akron representative of Farrakhan and a pastor of an Akron apostolic church attended last Monday’s regular City Council meeting, where they urged officials to take action against the officer.
Stephen Muhammad, part of the Nation of Islam, called the officer’s post “very disturbing.”
Muhammad said he supports many Akron police and freedom of speech, but contended the officer’s post crossed into dangerous territory by advocating assassination.
“A threat to [Farrakhan] is a threat toward me, toward us, toward those we serve in Akron and … [elsewhere],” Muhammad said.
The Rev. David Parker of Zion Apostolic Faith Church told the council that he has been part of a group working with city leaders to add more African-American officers to the ranks of Akron police and supports both Mayor Daniel Horrigan and Police Chief Kenneth Ball.
But what the officer said about Farrakhan is “criminal,” Parker said, who also considered the officer’s Facebook words a call for assassination.
“How can [the officer] work for us? How can he represent us?” Parker asked, urging the city to take swift action to separate itself from the officer who made the comment about Farrakhan, whom he called a civil rights leader.
Farrakhan, a black nationalist, is also notorious for his history of anti-Semitic comments.
This week, he made news after leading chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” during a visit Sunday to Iran, the conservative publication National Review reported.
The Akron police officer’s comment about Farrakhan was made Oct 30, three days after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead.
It was the deadliest attack ever on U.S. Jews and there were numerous news stories that followed about an unsettling rise of U.S. anti-Semitism. Some of those stories pointed to words spoken by Farrakhan, but it is not clear whether that prompted the officer’s Facebook comment.
Akron police spokesman Lt. Rick Edwards said Tuesday that city officials first learned about the officer’s Oct. 30 comment through WKYC’s initial report Saturday.
The officer has been on the force about 23 years and made the comment using his personal Facebook account, Edwards said.
Edwards provided a copy of a prepared statement saying that the officer’s comments do not represent the city or its police department.
“Furthermore, comments by our employees condoning violence or bigotry of any type will never be tolerated,” the statement read. “The Akron Police Department is committed to building relationships with community members and providing a high level of service to keep our citizens safe.”