Inflammatory Facebook comments by Antioch police leaders have residents seeing red about the blue

Screenshot of the controversial comments by Antioch police leaders posted by Antioch School Board Trustee on her personal Facebook page Tuesday, June 22, 2020.

Police Officers Association President Aiello apologizes; Police Chief Brooks disappointed, investigating; Mayor condemns comment; Wednesday protest planned; first community forum on police reform next Tuesday

By Allen Payton

Complete meme posted by talk show host Larry Elder on his Facebook page.

A series of comments on Facebook by leaders in the Antioch Police Department below a meme of a protester holding up her middle finger in the face of a line of police officers, of how they would respond to a protest has enraged some members of the public. The meme was posted by national radio talk show host, Larry Elder, on his Facebook page with the statement, “Maybe it’s the people, not the cops, that need ‘better training’” Antioch residents are calling for the resignation of the officer who wrote in response, “I firmly believe an open hand slap in the face is 100% justified in this incident.” He later added, “My comment, is when a police officer is standing there doing nothing and a person is antagonizing them, why is it OK?”

The comments were made by Corporal Steve Aiello, who is president of the Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA). In addition, more comments were made by Hans Ho, a former chairman of the Police Crime Prevention Commissions and current coordinator of the city’s Neighborhood Watch Program, and Lonnie Karste, a former consultant to the Antioch Police Department, on Ho’s Facebook page Monday night. The post has since been removed.

APOA President Aiello Apologizes

Aiello issued an apology for his comments in a Tuesday post on the APOA Facebook page writing, “To the Citizens of Antioch: As President of the Antioch Police Officers’ Association, let me clarify: There is NO instance where I would condone an Antioch police officer slapping a resident. The Facebook statement was taken out of context and I apologize to the community for having made it. Please be assured that your police officers are 100% committed to protecting the Antioch community and we are working 24/7 to serve you.”

Antioch Police Chief Brooks Disappointed, Investigating

I am extremely disappointed by the recent comments made on social media by Corporal Aiello. At face value they were insensitive and not in line with values of the Antioch Police Department. I have opened an investigation into this matter and, based on the findings, will hold him accountable for his actions.”

Karste Apologizes for Comment

In the same thread on Ho’s Facebook page, Ho responded to Aiello’s comment by writing, “we are supposed to be more understanding, remember?” Aiello responded, “Oh…yeah, I forgot.”

Karste then made a comment writing, “I think he was – I was thinking a closed fist punch!!”

Regarding Karste’s comment Chief Brooks responded, “Lonnie hasn’t been a consultant here for a couple years. I hadn’t seen it before now. Again, he’s not affiliated with the City any longer.”

When reached for comment, a contrite Karste said, “I apologize. I would never condone violence. Obviously, people have a right to their opinion. I support the police in a very difficult situation. But obviously my comment was very inappropriate.”

Promo of today’s protest posted on Facebook by Antioch resident Kevin Christopher McManimen.

Residents React, Protest Planned

The comments have residents upset, including an Antioch school board member, who are now planning a protest for Wednesday afternoon.

A screenshot of Ho’s post was shared by Antioch resident Kevin Christopher McManimen with the comments “Head of Antioch Cops, in support of killer cop Mellone, advocating for police brutality. This is your Antiochs (sic) PRESIDENT OF POLICE ASSOCIATION!!!
#whereisthemayor #copsownmayor #wemarchonwednesday”.

Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder, who has been organizing and promoting protests in Antioch recently, calling for defunding police, shared the screenshot of the comments on her personal Facebook page Monday night.

In comments below the screenshot she wrote, “And say whatever you want, but freedom of speech does not mean freedom from repercussions. Someone in his line of work should have to answer for comments like that” and “its (sic) kinda terrifying though tbh (to be honest) because this guy polices our streets.” Householder also wrote, “it still leads me to believe this man should NOT be in power anymore.”

In a comment on Tuesday night, she wrote in response to a KRON4 news report about Aiello’s comments, “’Will hold him accountable for his actions.’ What does that even mean though?

Steve Aiello is the same guy that got folx (sic) to flood public comments opposing the police reform ad hoc committee because there is ‘nothing wrong with the Antioch Police Department and it doesn’t need reforms because it can police itself’ SMH.” and “Join us tomorrow at 3PM for a demonstration demanding Aiello and the Killer Cop Mellone resign.”

That last part of Householder’s comments is a reference to Officer Michael Mellone who was a lateral transfer from the San Francisco Police Department last year, while under investigation for the shooting death, by him and another officer, of a homeless Hispanic man three-and-a-half years earlier. While he was cleared by the San Francisco District Attorney, who determined the shooting to be justifiable, had Mellone stayed with the SFPD he was facing a possible 10- or 45-day suspension, based on recommendations of Internal Affairs and a citizens oversight committee. In response to a call by Antioch Mayor Sean Wright for an investigation into the hiring of Mellone, Antioch Police Chief Brooks said on Wednesday, “the investigation is still in progress.”

Mayor Wright Condemns Aiello’s Comment

When reached for comment, Mayor Wright wrote, “I do not condone the comments made by Officer Aiello. It is never acceptable for a police officer to slap a citizen, not an Antioch police officer, not any police officer.”

In a post Wednesday afternoon, Councilman Lamar Thorpe wrote on his personal Facebook page, I’m blown away by these reckless comments made by the Antioch Police Union President. The Police Chief has launched an investigation into this matter.”

Police Reform Community Forums

This all is happening following two special meetings held by the Antioch City Council, last week, in which 864 public comments were submitted either for or against the formation of a proposed police reform ad hoc committee. The council chose instead to hold a series of public forums with the entire council and Antioch Police Crime Prevention Commission members, with the first one to be held next Tuesday night, June 30.

Efforts to reach Aiello asking if he plans to resign as an officer and/or the APOA President, as well as Ho and Police Crime Prevention Commission Chair Sandra White were unsuccessful before publication time. Please check back for any updates to this report.

the attachments to this post:

APD Protest March 06-24-20

Larry Elder complete meme edited

Screenshot of Aiello & police FB comments

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply