(WXXI & WEOS ) Activists and concerned residents packed Geneva Public Library this week to discuss allegations that a police officer posted racist and harmful images.
Two weeks ago, a collage of memes and images allegedly posted by a Geneva officer between 2012 and 2015 to his personal Facebook page went viral, with some people calling for his dismissal. Some of these images include a meme stating, “Trust me, I’m white,” a Confederate flag and a cowboy posted against an American flag asking why he has to “press 1 for English.”
“The chief and myself need to look deep into the city organization and make sure that any barrier that’s based on race. Any bias in any service or program is eradicated," said City Manager Matt Horn at the Tuesday meeting. Horn is also a member of the Geneva Community Compact, a group formed after the 2011 shooting of Corey Jackson, a black resident who was killed in a traffic stop.
The Compact joined Tools for Social Change Tuesday evening. Horn used the time to underline the Compact's commitment to bettering the community for all Geneva residents.
“This steering committee meets monthly,” he said. ”It’s actively developing programming and it was actively developing program prior to this incident. So I think what you’ll see are some really robust and well-developed programs that come along at the perfect time."
“You have to be real when you deal with these issues. We have to get to a better place,” said Geneva Council member Mark Gramling. In a lengthy post to Facebook, he promised to use his position contribute to what he said is a necessary discussion on accountability and supremacy.
The Geneva Police Department has launched an internal investigation, which includes using the posts as evidence and interviewing Yancey.
“We don’t want this to drag out. This isn’t something I want to take weeks you know?" said Horn in an earlier interview with WXXI. "This is something we want an answer on very quickly and then we’ll move to the appropriate discipline…A private citizen may get a pass on something like that…but as someone who’s been handed over the public’s trust and who is responsible for protecting the interests of everyone in this community, you’re held to a higher standard."
When asked about accountability, Gramling admitted the national narrative usually shows officers getting off but he said he wants to do what he can to keep this from happening in Geneva.
“My message to those who are maybe a bit cynical because of past practices be encouraged. I think again we have been working, sometimes behind the scenes it doesn’t always seem to be that there’s anything progressing but I am here to tell the community we have been working with the Geneva Police Department and we have been working with the city on these things.”