Louisiana police officer Charlie Rispoli has been fired after making a Facebook post that implies Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be shot.
Rispoli, who has worked for the Gretna, Lousiana police force since 2005, characterized Ocasio-Cortez as a “vile idiot” in the post.
“This vile idiot needs a round…….and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” the post read, as Rispoli alluded to AOC’s previous job as a New York City bartender before being elected as a congresswoman. The post was first reported by NOLA.com.
Rispoli, a 47-year-old married father of two from Metairie, Louisiana, could not be reached for comment by Heavy. He worked for the Gretna Police Department for 14 years. He was hired in 2005. Other details about his career with the police department, including whether he was the target of any complaints or disciplinary proceedings, were not immediately available.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted after Rispoli was fired, “This is Trump’s goal when he uses targeted language & threatens elected officials who don’t agree w/ his political agenda. It’s authoritarian behavior. The President is sowing violence. He’s creating an environment where people can get hurt & he claims plausible deniability.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gretna’s Polcie Chief Called Charlie Rispoli’s Post ‘Disturbing’
Charlie Rispoli has been fired because of the Facebook post, according to WDSU. Rispoli was initially put on administrative leave without pay, but as of Monday afternoon, he has been let go from the Gretna police department. The chief also fired another police officer, Angelo Varisco, who liked the post.
Prior to his firing Gretna, Louisiana police chief Arthur Lawson called the post “disturbing” when it was brought to his attention Friday, per NOLA.com.
“I will tell you this: This will not go unchecked,” Lawson said. “I’m not going to take this lightly and this will be dealt with on our end. It’s not something we want someone that’s affiliated with our department to make these types of statements. That’s not going to happen.”
Rispoli also commented on the post, adding another thought about Ocasio-Cortez. “It must be hard living with an IQ of a Chiclet,” Rispoli’s comment stated according to a screenshot obtained by NOLA.com.
2. Although Chief Lawson Called the Post ‘Disturbing,’ He Said He Felt That It Did Not Constitute an Actual Threat
Gretna police chief stopped short of calling the post a threat of violence, as he emphasized the level of seriousness social media plays in the life and image of a police officer.
“Whether you agree or disagree with the message of these elected officials and how frustrated you may or may not get, this certainly is not the type of thing that a public servant should be posting,” Lawson told NOLA.com.
President of the watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission, Rafael Goyeneche told the newspaper that Gretna’s post undermines a level of trust the public has with law enforcement.
“The police are held to a higher standard of professionalism,” he said. “Even if this is not actually advocating somebody shoot someone, it’s totally inappropriate for a law enforcement officer to make this poor attempt at humor. All he did was discredit law enforcement in general and his department in particular.”
3. According to Chief Lawson, Rispoli’s Comments on Social Media Are the First within Gretna’s Police Department That Suggested Violence
Chief Lawson told NOLA.com that officers have been told to be wary of their activity on social media.
“We do everything that we can through this department to train our officers to try to make them understand that when they do something like this, the impact is greater than the average citizen,” Lawson said.
Lawson also added that there have been a few issues with Gretna police officers prior to this incident, but it was more along the lines of officers using social media while they were on duty, not inciting violence against a member of congress. He told the paper if there were disciplinary actions taken they would not be made public.
Rafael Goyeneche told NOLA.com that he thinks these incidents should be documented at the very least.
“Maybe he is cautioned, maybe he gets some training, but you keep a record so you can track this and see trends,” Goyeneche said. “If there’s no record of this and the newspaper hadn’t discovered it, how would anyone know that this isn’t part of a pattern?”
He also mentioned that this scenario should be used to drive a point home among other officers.
“This is one of your own; this isn’t some textbook,” Goyeneche said. “If you don’t use it as a teaching tool, I think you’re setting yourself up for future embarrassment.”
4. Rispoli’s Comments Were Attached to an Article from a Satirical Website
The article Rispoli posted, which was titled “Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget: ‘We Pay Soldiers Too Much,'” came from the satirical website, tatersgonnatate.com. The website takes pride in “expos[ing] and criticiz[ing] people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.”
“tatersgonnatate.com is a subsidiary of the ‘America’s Last Line of Defense’ network of parody, satire, and tomfoolery, or as Snopes calls it: Junk News. Because they’re too ignorant to understand what ‘satire’ means,” the satirical website’s about section states.
The website is also quite transparent about who they are targeting with their satirical articles and why they are targeting those specific demographics.
“‘Taters’ are the conservative fans of America’s Last Line of Defense. They are fragile, frightened, mostly older caucasian Americans. They believe nearly anything,” the website’s “About Taters” section states. “While we go out of our way to educate them that not everything they agree with is true, they are still old, typically ignorant, and again — very afraid of everything.”
The website believes shame is the best way to get their message across. “They don’t understand logic and they couldn’t care less about reason. Facts are irrelevant. BUT…They do understand shame,” it adds.
5. Rispoli’s Post Comes in the Wake of President Donald Trump’s Attacks against Ocasio-Cortez & Other Congresswomen
Rispoli’s post came at the end of a week where President Donald Trump was making headlines across the media for attacking Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and three other congresswomen known as “The Squad.”
On July 14, President Trump took to Twitter to tell “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” – referring to Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
The tweet was condemned by many for containing racist rhetoric and since they were directed at four women of color, it was also criticized for being an example of the President’s continuing bout with racism.
Trump came out earlier today to flip the script and call “The Squad” racist. The President also called them “young, inexperienced, and not very smart” in a tweet this morning.