Assistant District Attorney in Michigan resigns after Facebook post

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, there were a series of horrendous social media posts by police officers, attorneys, politicians and political parties.  Sadly, events like Ferguson can bring out the worst in people, and that is frequently reflected in content posted to social media.

Now, in the aftermath of the Freddie Grey murder, the same phenomenon is being reflected all over again, as individuals from across the country are doing stupid things on social media.

Today’s entry comes to us from Wayne County, Michigan, home county to Detroit.  Teana Walsh was an Assistant District Attorney, until she made this Facebook post:

Teana Walsh FB

Obviously, the post is a terrible one – calling for the murder of anyone, even rioters, isn’t a particularly swift move, let alone for someone who plays a critical role in the justice system.  Of course, there are racial implications to this status as well.

Walsh had second thoughts about the status and deleted it, but not before other attorneys copied it and shared it with others, which eventually turned into a national news story.  The Prosecutor’s office then disciplined Walsh, though they would not comment on what that actually meant, before Walsh resigned her post last week.

After her resignation, the Wayne County District Attorney office released this statement:

“APA Teana Walsh is known for her great work ethic and her compassion for victims of crime and their families. Her post was up on line briefly and she immediately took it down.

The post was completely out of character for her and certainly does not reflect the person that we know.”

Walsh’s Facebook page has since been deleted.

The entire story is very sad, on many fronts.  All of us in the public life have an obligation to chose our words carefully.  Unfortunately, Walsh’s attitude towards rioters and looters is frightening.  That’s not to defend the actions of those who were destroying public property and private businesses; they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  But that’s the point: prosecuted to the full extent of the law, not shot on the spot.  We have a justice system in America for a reason, and it is unnerving to see a critical officer in that system calling for violence.  Perhaps this was an exaggeration, perhaps just a momentary lapse of judgement, or perhaps it was something more sinister.  Regardless, social media isn’t the culprit here: it’s just the outlet that someone used to display their poor judgement.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

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