York County, VA – A York-Poquoson Sheriff’s deputy’s decision to dress as Congresswoman Frederica Wilson for Halloween resulted in her reassignment on Wednesday, Sheriff J.D. Diggs said.
Deputy Jean Browning, a 20-year veteran of the department, was photographed in a costume depicting Congresswoman Wilson, alongside her boyfriend, who wore a costume depicting President Donald Trump.
“The combined intent of the couple was to convey the message of how funny it would be for two political figures that were at odds with each other to go to a party together,” Sheriff Diggs said in a Wednesday post on the department’s Facebook page.
“There was no intent to either mock or degrade either Congresswoman Wilson or President Trump, or for that matter to even make any kind of political statement,” Sheriff Diggs said.
Deputy Browning’s decision greatly offended the York-James City-Williamsburg (YJCW) Branch of the NAACP, however, who called her actions “wholly inappropriate and completely unacceptable,” in a Wednesday press release.
“For decades, blackface has been synonymous with hate, degradation and bigotry,” the YJCW NAACP said. “It is the Branch’s position that blackface in and of itself should be enough to warrant disciplinary action.”
Sheriff Diggs expressed surprise by the press release, and said he had met with the YJCW NAACP on Nov. 6 in order to discuss deputy Browning’s actions.
“I perceived that meeting to the first of several as we would strive to come to a solution,” Sheriff Diggs said.
“I further asked for input from the NAACP about possible remedies or solutions to the problem as none were discussed during the initial meeting,” Sheriff Diggs explained. “I anticipated that there would be more meaningful open dialog regarding this matter.”
Sheriff Diggs said deputy Browning has worked for the department for 20 years, 10 of which she served as a D.A.R.E. officer. She has received nine Letters of Commendation during her career.
“She has never been accused of any type of racial transgression, and is known as a kind and caring person,” Sheriff Diggs noted.
Deputy Browning will no longer be working as a D.A.R.E. officer, and has been reassigned to another position within the sheriff’s office, he said.