A rural Missouri police chief has been placed on leave over inflammatory Facebook posts about protests over the death of George Floyd.
Keven Suedmeyer, the police chief in Auxvasse, about 35 miles northeast of Jefferson City, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, Mayor Tom Henage said Friday.
“Racism is not condoned or tolerated by the City of Auxvasse,” Henage said in a news release. When asked afterward by the Jefferson City News-Tribune if that meant he considered the posts, which were on Suedmeyer’s personal Facebook page, to be racist, Henage said he didn’t.
Suedmeyer’s home phone rang unanswered Saturday when The Associated Press tried to call him for comment.
In a May 31 post, Suedmeyer wrote that if someone stands in the street blocking traffic, that person deserves “to be run over. That will help cleanup the gene pool.”
When Will Shackelford, a candidate for Callaway County western district commissioner, responded, “Have you come across any road blocks?”, Suedmeyer wrote, “Nope (and) I certainly won’t stop for them — though if they insist — I’ll identify myself — they can back down or get shot.”
On June 2, he wrote: “Corona virus coming to rioters everywhere Darwin — work your magic Time to ramp up the funeral industry.” A city alderman, Bret Barnes, was among Suedmeyer’s friends who hit “like” on the post.
Suedmeyer also shared offensive memes created by other Facebook users. One, shared June 1, is divided into two halves. At the top is a picture of a black man speaking into a microphone, captioned: “Rioter: ’We’re gonna start coming to the suburbs Ain’t nothing left here.” Below it is a photo of two white men holding automatic weapons, captioned, “The boys and I patiently waiting in the suburbs.”
Suedmeyer’s Facebook page was publicly viewable until it disappeared Thursday morning, the News Tribune reported.
Aleigha Turner, an Auxvasse resident who helped organize a recent Black Lives Matter protest in nearby Fulton, expressed surprise and disappointment.
“It’s not something I expect out of a police chief, someone we’re supposed to look toward for safety and protection, especially in these times,” she said. “I was very shocked, but also I understand that there’s definitely a bigger racist population than we like to think.”
Sara Baker, the policy director for Missouri branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, condemned the posts in an emailed statement Friday.
“The posts of the Auxvasse police chief are a fitting example of why so many Americans have taken to the streets in support of demanding law enforcement confront its history of discriminatory practices against the black and brown citizens they are sworn to protect,” Baker wrote.