Savannah, GA – A Savannah police officer was fired on Monday due to a Facebook post he made about the “privilege” associated with public assistance in the U.S.
Critics alleged that now-former Savannah Police Department (SPD) Officer Edwin Myrick’s post was racist – an assertion that Myrick said simply isn’t true, WSAV reported.
Myrick said he utilized public assistance in the past after his position as the Effingham County Director of Emergency Management was dissolved, and that he felt “privileged” that such resources were available to help him and his family until he was able to secure new employment.
When he spotted a post about the issue on Facebook, he copied it and shared it on his own page, WSAV reported.
“What is privilege?….Privilege is wearing $200 sneakers when you’ve never had a job,” the post read. “Privilege is wearing $300 Beats headphones while living on public assistance. Privilege is having a Smartphone with a Data plan which you receive no bill for.”
“Privilege is living in public subsidized housing where you don’t have a water bill, where rising property taxes and rents and energy costs have absolutely no effect on the amount of food you can put on your table,” the post continued. “Privilege is the ability to go march against, and protest anything that triggers you, without worrying about calling out of work and the consequences that accompany such behavior.”
“Privilege is having as many children as you want, regardless of your employment status, and be able to send them off to daycare or school you don’t pay for,” the message read.
“Privilege is sending your kids to school early for the before school programs and breakfast, and then keeping there for the after school program…all at no cost to you….paid for by the people who DO HAVE TO DEAL WITH RISING TAXES AND COSTS!…you know, us so called ‘PRIVILEGED’ the ones who pay while you TAKE TAKE TAKE!”
SPD Chief Roy Minter said he was made aware of the post by a member of the community, WSAV reported.
After an internal investigation, Chief Minter determined that Officer Myrick violated SPD policy regarding treating others with respect, WSAV reported.
“No employee will speak disrespectfully of any….race,” the policy outlined.
Officer Myrick also allegedly violated SPD policy by “using the internet to harass, annoy, belittle or oppress” another person, according to Chief Minter.
Myrick said that the post had nothing to do with race.
“For someone to just assume what I am feeling inside my heart as racism because I am a white police officer is frankly very disappointing,” he told WSAV. “If you take [an] employee and you just terminate them without having some kind of dialogue of intent, then you’re really doing an injustice to the city of Savannah and you are unbelievably destroying the morale of the police department.”
According to the SPD’s investigative report, the now-former officer said that he felt the post was “talking about ‘himself’ in some ways.”
Myrick told WSAV that he failed to consider “how people who had bad experiences would perceive the storyline” presented in the post.
“For that, I am at fault,” he said.
Former SPD Major Gerry Long said that the SPD’s social media policy is well-known even among most police recruits, SWAV reported.
“When you’re in uniform, you’re representing the department,” Long told WSAV. “Even in an off-duty capacity, when you share something that is certainly adverse, then you can be held responsible for that.”
“Even though it is your personal profile, you represent the department and people know who you are,” she added.