Salem police apologize to Marty Walsh and Charlie Baker after ‘wildly inappropriate tweet’

"They will be disciplined accordingly."

BOSTON, MA - MAY 30-SATURDAY: Mayor Marty Walsh speaks to the Boston community during a prayer vigil for George Floyd who was killed by police in Minnesota May 30, 2020, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh speaks to the community during a prayer vigil Saturday for George Floyd. –Paul Connors / Media News Group / Boston Herald

The Salem Police Department is apologizing for an apparently rogue tweet from their official account Monday morning ridiculing Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the wake of Sunday’s protests against police brutality.

“The earlier tweet was not authorized and in no way reflects the beliefs of the Salem Police Department,” officials wrote Monday morning. “We deeply apologize to Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker.”

Police added that they will conduct an investigation into who sent the “wildly inappropriate tweet.”

“They will be disciplined accordingly,” they said.

The tweet, which was quickly deleted, criticized Walsh for allowing the downtown Boston protest, which turned combative Sunday night, to proceed despite the state and city’s restrictions on public gatherings and nonessential businesses to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

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“You issued a permit for 10 of thousands of people to protest but I can’t go to a restaurant? You are ridiculous,” the Salem Police Department’s account tweeted at Walsh, adding that the mayor and “Too Tall Deval,” a derisive nickname that Baker’s conservative critics have coined for the governor, “are killing this State.”

Walsh’s office did not officially permit either of the demonstrations Sunday, though the Democratic mayor did signal support for protesters’ “constitutional right” to safely make their voices heard.

In response to a Twitter user who posted a screenshot of the tweet, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, a fellow Democrat, wrote that the message was “completely inappropriate and does not represent the position or values of the City of Salem or the Salem Police Department.”

In a subsequent statement, Driscoll said she was “appalled” by the tweet and had directed Salem Police Chief Mary Butler to conduct an internal review — including the city’s information technology, legal, and human resources departments — to identify who posted the tweet. Prior to Monday morning, the Salem Police Department’s Twitter account hadn’t tweeted an original post since January 2019.

“The results of this investigation and the subsequent disciplinary action will be made available to the public,” Driscoll wrote Monday.

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“To be clear, the tweet posted this morning to the Salem Police Department’s account was not one issued or sanctioned by the department or the City,” she added. “While it has been removed from Twitter, we have a responsibility to ensure that the individual responsible is held accountable, and that we strengthen our internal policies around the use of official social media accounts to try to prevent anything like this from happening again.”

The tweet comes after a similar episode last month, in which a longtime Cambridge police officer apologized for sending a profane tweet disparaging Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III from the department’s official account.

Following the mostly peaceful protests Sunday, both Walsh and Baker issued statements commending the “vast majority” of demonstrators, while denouncing those who turned to vandalism and looting after the event ended.

“Tonight’s protests were motivated by a righteous desire for equality, justice, and accountability in our country,” Walsh said. “I see you. I hear you. I will use my voice for you. I am angered, however, by the people who came into our city and chose to engage in acts of destruction and violence, undermining their message. If we are to achieve change and if we are to lead the change, our efforts must be rooted in peace and regard for our community.”


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