GENEVA — The city’s police chief said anti-police statements written in chalk during a protest at the Public Safety Building Sunday night were “uncalled for and harassing” toward his officers.
The Times learned of the incident in an email Monday from At-Large City Councilor Anthony Noone. Those at the rally were protesting the April 20 death of Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl fatally shot by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer in a disturbance reportedly involving a knife.
“Unfortunately, people took this time to use chalk to write many phrases on the sidewalk surrounding the (Public Safety Building),” Noone wrote. “Some of those phrases were: ‘You are not heroes,’ ‘GPD Quit Your Jobs,’ ‘Stop Killing Kids,’ ‘ACAB (All Cops are Bastards),’ etc. We have been contacted by several residents expressing concern about this matter.”
Reached by email Monday afternoon, Police Chief Mike Passalacqua confirmed the incident.
“I am at a loss for words that a group of 10 or so individuals, one who is a current City Council member, would gather for a vigil at the Public Safety Building regarding an incident that took place in Ohio and during the vigil gathering write messages like the ones that were sent in the email,” he said.
Passalacqua did not return a subsequent email from the Times asking if the unnamed councilor is Laura Salamendra, a frequent critic of the police department.
In an email to the Times, Salamendra said she had no comment on the incident.
There was no visible chalk near the Public Safety Building late Monday afternoon. Passalacqua said it was cleaned up by an unidentified good Samaritan, and police are investigating the incident.
“Yes, it happened in front of the front doors to the workplace of the men and women of the Geneva Police Department,” Passalacqua said. “This was absolutely uncalled for and harassing in nature to the men and women of the Geneva Police Department. These men and women come to work and do their job every day with class, pride, integrity, professionalism, and dedication.
“We are working short, officers are working long days and at times mandatory overtime due to staffing on certain days/shifts,” Passalacqua added. “I have said it many times before, and I will say it again; I stand by the men and women of the Geneva Police Department, I commend the work they do daily, and am proud to be leading this police department.”