"Insensitive and divisive"
COLUMBIA, Mo 8/10/15 (Beat Byte) -- The Columbia Police Officers' Association (CPOA) is drawing fire for declaring August 9 "Darren Wilson Day" on the group's Facebook page, in honor of the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, one year ago.
Not directly affiliated with the Columbia Police Department, CPOA is instead a "fraternal order" that represents the political and policy interests of its member officers.
"Today's Columbia MO Police Officers Association post is insensitive and divisive," Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid responded on his Facebook page yesterday. "Instead, our community and nation need to come together, communicate, and understand."
Brown's death -- and the protests that followed -- highlighted a problem that, with some exceptions, is unique to the black community: unarmed citizens, beaten or even killed by police officers, often for petty or minor offenses. The anniversary of the Ferguson shooting is sparking renewed protests -- and another police-related shooting.
"Our support for Officer Wilson has nothing to do with race or anything else other than the fact that he was thoroughly investigated, twice, once by the state of Missouri and once by President Obama's Justice Department, and BOTH investigations found he did NOTHING wrong," the CPOA Facebook page manager -- presumed to be director Dale Roberts -- wrote under a banner honoring Wilson (above). "He lost his job and his career. So, yes, we stand by this innocent, but persecuted, officer."
The post is drawing widespread condemnation -- and some support.
"This 'celebration' of Officer Wilson is in egregiously poor taste," wrote Columbia attorney Jeremy Root.
"If someone was beating the hell out of you and twice your size, you are gonna let them hurt you? It's a tough decision and we were not there to see it, so we cannot make the call," added Randall Beard, referring to Wilson's encounter with Brown. Beard blamed the media for "blowing the situation out of proportion."
Plastered with sarcastic memes and cartoons, CPOA's frat house Facebook atmosphere has come under fire before.
"This is not the first time that CPOA has reflected poorly on the brave and dedicated men and women of the Columbia Police Department," McDavid noted. In 2013, he demanded a formal apology for a post he said showed "breathtaking racial insensitivity that cannot be tolerated."
MAYOR IRE: McDavid demands police association apology over boyz-n-the-hood post