A Massachusetts police officer was asked to remove a Confederate flag he displayed inside his garage after a neighbor boy spotted it when the door was opened — and Facebook supporters rallied around the cop.
“Seriously? Get over it already,” posted Heather Madore. “If it’s not a flag, it’s how you say ‘happy holidays.’ If it’s not that, it’s a Starbucks cup.”
Readers reacted to a report posted on Facebook by The Greenfield Recorder, which covered complaints against Sgt. Dan McCarthy made by the boy’s parents.
One of the officer’s neighbors contacted Greenfield police when his 10-year-old adopted son, who is black, noticed the flag hanging on an interior wall but visible from the street with the door opened.
McCarthy, a full-time officer with Greenfield police since 1992 and the department’s liaison to the town’s Human Rights Commission, posted a single Facebook comment in response to the reports.
“Hatred is not a piece of fabric; it resides in people’s hearts,” the officer said. “As a Catholic man, I have no hatred in my heart and try to see the face of God in everyone.”
The town’s mayor has already met with Rod and Lionel Hart, who lodged the complaint, and the police chief has contacted them by text message and plans to meet with them later this week.
“I hate that their son has fear of the Greenfield police,” said Police Chief Robert Haigh.
It’s not clear whether McCarthy has any ties to the south, but many Facebook users said he was wrong to display the Confederate flag — which was removed from many government buildings and dropped by some retailers after a Confederacy-backing white supremacist gunned down nine black worshipers in South Carolina.
“I’m glad this made the paper,” said Danielle Letourneau-Therrien. “It’s tone deaf to think as a public official this is ok. I think they need to be more thoughtful than an average citizen.”
Few readers shared her opinion, however, arguing that McCarthy had a right to display the flag inside his home — and still others challenged the concept of racism.
“Judging those you don’t know is the whole issue,” said Rebekah Angove. “So you’re doing the same bye saying someone is racist by owning a flag. All originating from people judging a skin color. (For f*ck’s sake) this shit is old as f*ck. One person cries and it gives the whole crowd reason to.”
Many readers claimed the Harts were the real racists because they had taught their son that the Confederate flag was a symbol of racism.
“Who told him it means racism? Did Daisy Duke say that?” said Mikele Deziell. “And just to cut of any disparaging remarks, I have raised minority kids, so I know racism when I see it… And sorry, I don’t see it here.”
Haigh, the police chief, said he didn’t believe McCarthy had malicious intent by displaying the flag — but he said police officers are police officers, even when they’re not in uniform.
The Harts said they understand and respect McCarthy’s rights as an individual, but they said the flag made their son fearful of police.
“It’s perfectly legal, and I understand freedom of speech, but with that right comes responsibility,” Rod Hart said. “If it was just any neighbor, we’d still be upset, but not like this. He is a municipal employee. He’s a police officer. That holds more weight.”
The Human Rights Commission will address the issue at its next meeting, Dec. 14, but it’s not clear whether McCarthy will face any censure or formal admonishment from town officials.
The police chief said he believes McCarthy has taken down the flag, which outraged some readers.
“So you’re not allowed to have something hanging in your own house because it might offend someone?” said Jesse Eldridge. “Are you kidding me? Leave the man alone, get over this self-rightous (sic) social justice crap and grow the hell up. People might not agree with your personal views, too bad, that’s life cupcake.”