HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ– A police officer in New Jersey voiced her opinion about the Black Lives Matter protesters on her personal social media, calling them “terrorists”, and now she has been terminated for it.
Following the in-custody death of George Floyd, while riots were raging, and cops were the number one target, Hopewell Township Police Officer, Sara Erwin wrote on Facebook that Black Lives Matter protesters are “terrorists” who couldn’t care less if she dies.
Officer Erwin was terminated on Friday, April 30th, via a unanimous vote of the town committee, which accepted the recommendation of a hearing officer, NJ.com reported. Her attorney said that this decision was made because the decision makers are “pandering to the far left.”
— New York Post (@nypost) May 4, 2021
A second officer, Sgt. Mandy Grey, was demoted and suspended for six months for replying to a comment on Erwin’s June 2020 post, their attorney Frank Crivelli told The New York Post on Tuesday, May 4th.
Crivelli spoke of Grey’s punishment, saying:
“The fact that she supported her position as a fellow officer, that was the reason that they actually suspended her,”
The New York Post reported that while writing under the username Sara Elizabeth on Facebook, Erwin said her children were crying for her not to go to work on June 8 — two weeks after George Floyd’s police-custody death in Minneapolis sparked heated protests nationwide.
Erwin’s post read in part:
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt the way I did last night,”
It went on to say:
“And then I watched people I know and others I care about going into harms way. I love police family like my own.”
In a very normal statement, Erwin then asked that people just “think” before posting certain things on social media.
The post continued by saying:
“I’ve seen so many black lives matter hashtags in these posts,”
Erwin then added:
“Just to let you know – they are terrorists. They hate me. They hate my uniform. They don’t care if I die.”
It was not just Grey who faced punishment for engaging with Erwin’s post, as the The Trentonian reported in June, six township employees, including five members of the police department were placed on leave following their support of Erwin’s post.
The now retired Hopewell Township Police Chief, Lance Maloney, declined to identify the employees at the time, but a source identified them as Grey, Detective Mark Panzano, Officers Erwin and John Ferner, dispatcher Gregory Peck and public works truck driver Steve Harbat.
According to the report, Erwin no longer wished to be “friends” with anyone who backed the Black Lives Matter organization and movement, and asked that they “unfriend” her. Panzano, Grey, Ferner, Peck and Harbat reportedly showed support for the post following this.
In February of 2019, the Hopewell Township Police Department shared the promotion of Grey to the rank of sergeant.
The Hopewell Township Police Department held a promotion and award ceremony at the Hopewell Township Committee meeting…
The post also states that Officer Panzano, received a letter of commendation for his actions during a house fire earlier that month.
Erwin’s post was investigated by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, but no criminal charges were filed. The township handled the discipline doled out Friday, NJ.com reported.
Erwin was hired by the department in 2001, while Grey had been employed since 1999. Both had “absolutely spotless records” with no internal affairs complaints prior to the Facebook post, Crivelli said.
Crivelli spoke of the Township’s decision, saying:
“They’re trying to make an example out of them, and in my view, they’re pandering to the far left,”
The New York Post reported that according to Crivelli, appeals in Superior Court citing First Amendment concerns on behalf of Erwin and Grey are underway. Erwin wants her job back, while Grey is seeking to have her rank restored and her six-month suspension rescinded.
Officers Panzano, Ferner, Peck and Township employee Harbat reportedly received written reprimands, but remain employed by the township.
Hopewell Township Police Director Robert Karmazin, who took over the department in November, provided a statement to The Post on Tuesday when they reached out for a comment.
The statement read:
“As the matter is in active litigation, the Hopewell Township Committee, the Hopewell Township Police Department and the Hopewell Township staff will have no further comment at this time,”
The Mayor of Hopewell Township, Julie Blake, declined to comment Monday, citing personnel confidentiality, NJ.com reported.
Also in New Jersey, Law Enforcement Today reported that a teacher in Jersey City was fired for calling George Floyd a criminal. Here is more on that.
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JERSEY CITY, NJ – A high school teacher in New Jersey was suspended after going on a profane tirade and calling George Floyd a “criminal” in a virtual class.
A discussion about climate change on Zoom last week turned into an airing of grievances by Howard Zlotkin, a science teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City.
“He’s not a hero, he’s like a criminal,” yelled the teacher, Howard Zlotkin, who is white, to a class of about 15 students. In a video, He chastised students for, as he described it, making criminals into heroes “because they’re black or because they got a bad story.”
“He’s not a hero, he’s like a criminal,” yelled the teacher, Howard Zlotkin, who is white, to a class of about 15 students over a Google Meet call. https://t.co/GZ4Cv4P0gz
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 1, 2021
During the rant, Zlotkin chastised people for “whining and crying about Black Lives Matter.”
Zlotkin told the students:
“He got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn’t comply and the bottom line is we make him a f—–g hero.”
George Floyd died while being taken into custody by Minneapolis police officers including Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last month of the black man’s murder.
Dickinson High School teacher Howard Zlotkin completely lost it.
He’s since been temporarily removed from the classroom…but there hasn’t been an update on whether any further action will follow.https://t.co/2Jd5XmhW4F
— theGrio.com (@theGrio) April 30, 2021
At one point, Zlotkin turned his anger directly at his students, shouting at them:
“If you think I’m privileged then f— you, because my daughter thinks I’m privileged and I don’t speak to her.”
A Senior student, 17-year-old Timmia Williams, filmed the rant on her cell phone and contacted school officials. The school did not immediately respond, so the student forwarded the video to local news station, NBC New York, which reported on the story.
NJ teacher Howard Zlotkin told his students that George Floyd was a criminal who “got arrested & killed because he wouldn’t comply.” He was rightfully suspended but this wasn't an isolated incident. He's the one who said the quiet part out loud! https://t.co/bfIuwTDtdE
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) May 4, 2021
An investigation has been opened by the school district, and Zlotkin has been suspended with pay pending the outcome, according to Mussab Ali, president of the Jersey City Board of Education. Zlotkin has also been suspended from his position as an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College.
Zlotkin has been a teacher in the district for 20 years and has tenure.
Ali stressed that Zlotkin’s “comments are not representative of the values of the board of education.”
What would you do if a teacher cursed out your child? New Jersey teacher #HowardZlotkin suspended after calling #GeorgeFloyd a "criminal" in racially charged & profanity-laced rant during class. pic.twitter.com/peU8pZKk2t
— Mustafa Santiago Ali (@EJinAction) May 4, 2021
Zlotkin told local media on Sunday that his words were taken out of context:
“I am being judged on a snapshot out of a 60-minute class. I tell the students it’s all about facts, and I was teaching those facts. I am a science teacher. My little snapshot that was posted to the world was out of this context.”
Williams said the rant started after students turned in short research papers. When she turned her paper in, Zlotkin asked her about how humans and involved in climate change. The conversation deteriorated when he brought up his disagreement with Black Lives Matter, according to Williams.
— WBMN Groovin' 24/7 (@RadioBlackOn) May 2, 2021
Four black students in the class, including Williams, challenged his position, and he grew angrier and gave the four black students an assignment not given to the other students. He told them to write an essay on “why Black lives should matter,” according to Williams.
Williams, who had been accepted to college on the same day as the rant, said she could not celebrate with her family:
“This is the first time I ever felt somebody telling me that my opinion doesn’t matter because I’m young and because I’m black and stuff. It just threw me off. I just started crying.”
Howard Zlotkin was suspended with pay pending a school district investigation.https://t.co/KzwaNFheqt
— BET News (@BETNews) May 1, 2021
When Williams returned to class Thursday, she and the other black students were allegedly confronted by the teacher again, which was also reportedly caught on cellphone video. When they said they did not complete the essay. He reportedly told Williams she did not complete the essay because she could not support her position:
“Why? You can’t make a case for yourself. No, you can’t, Timmia, that’s why.”
New Jersey teacher Howard Zlotkin suspended after going on profanity-laced rant, calling George Floyd a "criminal" – 👀🇺🇸 https://t.co/eFL8qX3OvZ
— 𝒩𝑒𝓌𝒴𝑜𝓇𝓀𝑒𝓇X 🚹 (@newyorker9_28) May 3, 2021
When Ms. Williams started to defend herself, Mr. Zlotkin cursed at her and later told her to “talk to the hand.”
He chastised another student who refused to do the essay and kicked a third off the remote class meeting after he defended his classmates, she said.
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