Louisiana Police Officer Fired After Saying Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Should Be Shot
Charles Rispoli, who wrote the post, was fired on Monday along with another officer in the Gretna Police Department, Chief Arthur Lawson told reporters that day.
The other officer, Angelo Varisco, had responded supportively to the post.
Rispoli called Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old representative from New York who was elected in November, a “vile idiot” on his Facebook page on Thursday, according to a screenshot published by the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate.
She “needs a round…….and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” Rispoli wrote.
He has reportedly served with Gretna police since 2005 but has not been a patrol officer, instead working in the court system and with people under house arrest.
Varisco, who was one of multiple people who responded with a thumbs-up or laughing emoji, has been a Gretna police police officer since 2016 but like Rispoli has not been on the streets, instead working in the courts, according to reports.
“This incident, we feel, has been an embarrassment to our department,” Chief Lawson said at Monday’s news conference.
“These officers have certainly acted in a manner which was unprofessional, alluding to a violent act to be conducted against a sitting U.S. congressman, a member of our government,” Lawson continued. “We’re not going to tolerate that.”
Rispoli’s post, Lawson said, “violated our policy, it was in a nature that certainly was not supported by our agency and promoted violence.”
Bizarrely, Rispoli’s criticism of Ocasio-Cortez was attached to a fake news article about how she believed soldiers were paid too much.
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“I spoke to him personally just to try to find out why. I just couldn’t understand and I think he just got caught up in the heat of the moment,” Lawson said of Rispoli, whom he described as contrite.
Nonetheless, Lawson said, Rispoli’s behavior “shows a lack of the officer paying attention to what’s going on in the world around him.”
“I mean this wasn’t even a real news article,” Lawson said.
“You see in social media where people don’t read what they’re reading and they don’t comprehend what they’re reading,” he said. “They take a caption and react, read a headline and react to it. It’s a shame, but it’s the world we’re living in now. It’s sad, but it’s something we just can’t tolerate.”
A spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on Rispoli’s post and firing. The Gretna police chief was not available to speak with PEOPLE on Tuesday morning.
Efforts to reach Rispoli and Varisco were unsuccessful.
At the same time that he chastised the officers for their conduct, Lawson on Monday also spoke of the intense media attention stirred by what he stressed was heated hyperbole and not an actual threat of violence.
Of the post coming to light, he said, “It certainly took someone and exposed a weakness that they had and cost them their career — cost two people their careers. It’s sad.”
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, a liberal congresswoman who has vaunted to national prominence in less than a year, on Monday linked the post to the vitriol directed at her from President Donald Trump.
“This is Trump’s goal when he uses targeted language & threatens elected officials who don’t agree w/ his political agenda. It’s authoritarian behavior,” Ocasio-Cortezt tweeted. “The President is sowing violence. He’s creating an environment where people can get hurt & he claims plausible deniability.”
One of Trump’s leading critics in Congress, he recently blasted her and three other progressive female lawmakers of color in racist tweets telling them to “go back” to the countries they came from. All four women are citizens; three were born in the U.S.
Trump has continued to defend the inflammatory remarks — which were widely denounced — instead pointing to what he says is “vile” rhetoric on the part of the liberal lawmakers, whom he said “hate” America.
“We fight to guarantee: healthcare, public college & student loan forgiveness, [environmental] protections, living wages, basic human rights,” Ocasio-Cortez shot back this week.