A North Carolina police chief was forced to retire this week after posting a Facebook rant calling the Black Lives Matter movement “nothing more than an American born terrorist group” and blaming President Barack Obama for failing to “put a stop” to the movement.
Surf City, N.C., Police Chief Mike Halstead was asked to resign or be fired, effective immediately, during a Tuesday emergency town meeting called by the mayor. The chief, who local news reports said had planned to retire in the coming year, decided to retire on the spot during the meeting Tuesday afternoon.
In his more than 600-word diatribe full of misspellings posted on his personal Facebook page earlier this month as an “Open Letter from a Police Chief,” Halstead said Black Lives Matter was “a terrorist group brought on by the lie of the hands up don’t shoot during the criminal thug Michael Brown incident.” (The impetus for Black Lives Matter was actually the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Black teenager Trayvon Martin, according to the movement’s founders.)
Halstead further claimed that Black Lives Matter activists have been calling for “the murders of a race of people and a group of public servants” and “instructed my officers to be vigilant, [and] if threatened take appropriate action. If that means shoot a thug, then do it and answer for it while you are still alive not dead.”
Halstead also blamed the Obama administration and civil rights leaders for creating a “race problem” in America.
“I agree there is a race problem in this country,” he said. “It is not brought on by police officer[s] doing their sworn duty, it is brought on by the government, the President and his cronies Al Sharpton, who is a criminal tax evader (but has the support of our so called President), Jessi [sic] Jackson, Eric Holder and that ignorant S.O.B. [Nation of Islam leader Louis] Farrakhan who should be charged with solicitation for murder.”
Halstead, who was a police officer for 35 years and served as the town’s police chief for the past 13 years, expressed frustration over his termination in another Facebook post on Wednesday, saying he was “thrown under the bus for expressing my 1st amendment rights” and having to “beg for a 60 day severance to feed my family.”
Surf City Town Manager Larry Bergman said in published reports that despite Halstead using his personal Facebook page and the town not having a specific policy on social media use by its employees, he explained to the chief “that as public employees we are often held to [a] higher level of scrutiny and that even if it is a personal social media account and despite not associating himself directly to the Town in his posting, that some will draw the connection.”
Bergman told South Carolina NBC affiliate WIS-TV that he ordered Halstead to step down after determining that his expression overstepped his position as a public servant.
“He put that information out, that was intended for his friends and colleagues and peers, but it was a public statement and there are people that were offended.”
Many residents, meanwhile, were unhappy with the town’s decision and called for support of the former chief.
“I was shocked and disgusted with our town council,” Brandy Cuff told local NBC affiliate WECT News 6. Cuff was part of a make-shift protest urging motorists to honk in support of Halstead. “No other words, just disgust,” she added, saying Halstead was unfairly forced to retire. “We have freedom of speech. Someone who spent 35 years of dedicated service can’t post his opinion, or have an opinion about that Someone who has to watch his fellow brothers in uniform be murdered, he can’t have an opinion It makes no sense.”
Bergman told reporters Halstead wrote his Facebook in large part due to the recent shooting death of a police officer in Texas, saying that he “felt pretty passionate about it.”