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Layton police officer resigns over racist meme allegation

A Layton police officer has resigned after a Massachusetts pastor accused him of posting a racist meme on Facebook.
A Layton police officer has resigned after a Massachusetts pastor accused him of posting a racist meme on Facebook.
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LAYTON — A Layton police officer has resigned after a Massachusetts pastor accused him of posting a racist meme on Facebook.

Bishop Talbert Swan, who is both a pastor and the chapter president for the NAACP in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts, made a Facebook post about the Bill Cosby trial on his Facebook page last week. Someone replied with a post showing what he called a racist meme. After doing some research into that poster's Facebook page, Swan discovered it was a Layton police officer and called him out in another post.

"This was posted on my page by a LAYTON, UTAH POLICE OFFICER. Guess he didn't read my profile," Swan posted on June 8 while using hashtags such as "racism" and "big mistake."

The meme is of an ancient Egyptian depiction of circumcision. The photo was altered, however, to show what appears to be slaves washing another person's genitals. The caption above the meme states, “We wuz kangz," a phrase that has been used to mock black history. Below the meme were the words, "No. You were (genital) washers."

Swan included a picture of the officer but did not name him.

"We were very shocked that such a posting would be posted on Facebook, mostly because it was posted by a police officer," said Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake chapter of the NAACP who was alerted to the post by Swan. "It was very disturbing that an officer would post something like was posted — very alarming to say the least."

An investigation was launched, but the officer resigned the next day before it was completed.

"Cop who posted #racist meme on my page resigned today," Swan posted on June 9. "He anticipated being terminated on Monday. I commend Chief Allen Swanson and the Layton Utah Police Department for their professionalism, swift action, and intolerance for such despicable behavior."

The city of Layton addressed the issue in a prepared statement on Friday.

"A city employee, on their private time, posted a response consisting of a meme, adding language that was clearly in violation of Layton City standards," according to the statement from Layton City Attorney Gary Crane. "The matter was quickly investigated immediately, the employee was put on administrative leave, pending a pre-disciplinary meeting and was very cooperative in the investigation admitting to the posting. The employee resigned. The investigation concluded."

Williams also credited Layton with taking action so quickly.

"They didn't condone what was done and they knew it something that they had to address immediately and they did," she said.

Working with law enforcement in Utah to foster positive relationships is something that Williams said the NAACP has be very active in pursuing. She believes it was because of that relationship that this issue was addressed quickly and successfully.

"We want to be able to work together," she said.