A small town mayor in Pennsylvania apparently called for civil rights protesters to be “destroyed” by water cannons in a series of controversial Facebook posts.
Karen Peconi is the first female mayor of Arnold, a suburb of Pittsburgh. On Monday night, the posts in question appeared on Peconi’s personal Facebook page. Those posts contained a video of protesters being attacked by police with water hoses and a photograph of similar attacks against civil rights protesters in Birmingham, Alabama some 55 years prior.
In 1963, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized protests for racial equality and civil rights in the City of Birmingham. In response to those protests, Eugene “Bull” Connor attacked protesters led by Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth with fire hoses and police dogs.
Those long-gone scenes of repression are usually cited disapprovingly. Not so in Peconi’s Facebook posts. One reads:
I’m posting this so the authorities everywhere sees [sic] this…bring the hoses.
Another post reads:
They don’t care about jobs for PGH…none of them work now. That’s how they can do this at 7 a.m. Very sad.
In yet another post, Peconi noted, of the water cannons, “We need one of these for tomorrow.”
The Facebook posts appear to be in response to ongoing protests over the police killing of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr., who was killed on June 19 by police officer Michael Rosfeld.
When contacted by local news station WTAE-4, Peconi alternated between speaking in first and third-person. She said, “I have no comment. The mayor didn’t post those.”
Councilman Philip McKinley called Peconi out in comments to WTAE-4. He said:
I was just flabbergasted. This doesn’t concern us here in Arnold. You can take it several different ways. When she said, “Those people don’t work in the morning,” you knew what she was talking about. City of Arnold is predominately African-American. We all live side by side. It shouldn’t be about race. The comment is not called for, whatsoever.
[image via screengrab]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
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