TULSA, OK — Tulsa’s Fraternal Order of Police has deleted a controversial Facebook post that went viral this week with its reference to the Las Vegas massacre while alluding to the professional football players who have been involved in protests during the national anthem before games.
The now-deleted post read, “To the brave NFL players that ran into a hotel with an active sniper … Nevermind, those were police officers …”
It appeared on the FOP’s Facebook page at 8:49 p.m. Monday and garnered more than 100,000 views, 1,100 shares and 3,000 reactions before it disappeared late Wednesday morning.
FOP President Mark Secrist told the Tulsa World via email that the post spawned from a meme circulating on social media.
Its purpose was to promote the heroism displayed by police officers who responded to Sunday’s shooting rampage in Las Vegas after several weeks of criticism directed toward law enforcement, he said.
Secrist was referencing the silent protest by numerous NFL players who have opted to kneel, lock arms or not participate during pre-game national anthem performances to protest what they say is unequal treatment of blacks by police officers and inequities faced by people of color.
The protest surged after President Donald Trump urged NFL owners in a speech to “get that son of a b—– off the field” when a player disrespects the U.S. flag.
Players say the protest isn’t about disrespecting the flag or military but rather systemic oppression they believe minorities face daily.
“The meme surfaced after several weeks of discussion on social media about the negative issue with NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem,” Secrist wrote. “We were only showcasing the heroic acts of our Brothers and Sisters in Las Vegas.”
The post, according to Secrist, received an “overwhelmingly” positive response. It also received considerable backlash, though the police union president said he expected negative comments.
Many accused the organization of willingly furthering the divide between Tulsa’s black community and law enforcement.
Others said the post exploited the shooting that left nearly 60 people dead and hundreds more injured.
One comment stated that the post shows that the police union hasn’t given “an iota of thought to the concerns of millions of people who care about police brutality.”
“I don’t know who is responsible for this, but you’ve set back the reputation and good will toward (the Tulsa Police Department) in the minds of the people who need to trust you the most,” the comment said.
Secrist acknowledged that the police union needs to do a better job of connecting with the community and reducing racial tensions, adding that improving relations is an ongoing goal.
He said the decision to delete the post was made because “we didn’t want attention drawn away from the terrible tragedy and other issues” affecting law enforcement.
From The Tulsa World