A police officer in Ontario wore a Confederate flag and people are calling for him to be fired
Two images of Constable Todd Bennett have surfaced, one from July 4, 2019 shows Bennett wearing the Confederate flag on a t-shirt among a group of people at a function that was posted to Facebook.
It's accompanied by comments below the image, which show Bennett responding to someone asking about the "treason" shirt, saying "I'm wearing the real independence Day flag. The South will rise again! Trump 2020."
The other image dated June 14, 2015 shows Bennett and another man riding in a golf cart with a Confederate flag attached to the back.
REPRIMAND CONSTABLE TODD BENNETT FOR BEING A RACIST. pic.twitter.com/zSQ88N69EX— #BLACKLIVESMATTER (@hesbrandon) June 2, 2020
"One isolated post from 47 weeks ago does not represent the hundreds of thousands of events and instances where Belleville police officers have kept this community safe over the past year," he said.
"I remind folks from time to time that our constitution and charter of rights and freedoms also guarantees the rights and freedoms of speech and expression even if we vehemently disagree on what is said or expressed."
this is not the truth, when i first discovered the photo I sent COUNTLESS emails to the belleville police service and THE MAYOR. the response i got was, “we appreciate your emails”. I sent those in July of 2019.. you took “immediate action” almost a whole year later?— ruby rose castle (@rubyycastle) June 3, 2020
Bennett also issued an apology for his actions and has since taken down at least one of the posts.
1/2The Belleville Police Service is aware of a post made by one of its officers on the members personal Facebook page that was offensive. When we became aware of the situation, we immediately took action. Constable Bennett has since taken the post down and has apologized for the— Belleville Police Service (@BLVLPolice) June 3, 2020
"I am deeply sorry that my own poor judgement in this instance has caused any citizen pain or to doubt that they can rely on their police service to serve and protect them," he said before explaining the circumstances under which the images were taken.
He said that they were "not meant to be any kind of political or racist statement."
"Now, more than ever, I am aware of why such symbols and comments are hurtful, inappropriate and offensive. I had committed to my force over a year ago to do better and have adhered to that."
But people are saying it's not enough.
@BLVLPolice An apology and a redirect re Todd Bennett’s racism & misogeny is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. What is it going to take to get our police forces to rid themselves of blatantly biased officers that undermine community trust and put already marginalized portions the public at risk?— Amanda Kirby (@AmazandaKirby) June 4, 2020
And that the Belleville Police need to do better.
to the belleville police service - this is not something you can sit and wait to pass, it’s not a small booboo made by one of your cops. everything happening across the globe with the #blacklivesmatter movement is here to stay. your silence is damning and will not protect you.— stacko #ACAB (@ilovegluten1) June 5, 2020
A Change.org petition calling for the Belleville Police to terminate Bennett has already generated over 10,200 signatures.
PETITION TO HAVE TODD BENNETT TERMINATED FROM BPS AND HAVE BPS INVESTIGATED FOR DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MINORITIES: https://t.co/fNaBVlfKl5— soup (@aboynamedsoup) June 3, 2020
According to the petition, "Bennett has been heard demeaning both black and indigenous Canadians, claiming they are 'more likely to commit acts of violence" and bragging about using discriminatory policing practices against minorities."
"Bennett has been accused by multiple women of inappropriate behaviour and comments, as well as mishandling reports of sexual assault by making fun of victims or not taking them seriously."
"All of these incidents and more have been documented and detailed in a Facebook post available here."
The posts have resurfaced at a time when multiple anti-Black racism protests have been taking place in Canada and around the world in response to instances of police brutality.
"An apology means nothing to victims of discrimination and abuse. Todd Bennett needs to face tangible and meaningful discipline for his racist and sexually predatory behaviour," continues the petition.
"The Belleville Police Service needs to be thoroughly looked at as a whole for allowing this behaviour to continue."
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