A Queens police department of the NYPD has sparked a bit of controversy with their social media account.
In celebration of Black History Month, the Twitter account of the Queens police department highlighted the contributions of Jack Johnson to the world of sports. The tweet heralded the achievements of the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion who fought the “the fight of the century” against Jim Jeffries, but the hashtag enraged some followers.
The tweet read:
“Jack Johnson became the first African American man to hold the World Heavyweight Champion boxing title in 1908. #Blacklivesmatter”.
Deputy Inspector Janice Holmes, an African-American woman whose face is on the tweet and the face of the 100th precinct account, found herself at the center of firestorm from her fellow officers.
Holmes told her superiors at the NYPD that she was not responsible for tweeting the post with the Black Lives Matter hashtag, and reportedly ordered it deleted and changed. The hashtag on a new post now reads #BlackHistoryMonth. According to NY Daily News, the NYPD has set policies detailing both who has access to the social media accounts, as well as guidelines for its use. The NYPD spokesperson said that there is no reason to believe that Holmes or any other person with access to the account will be facing any suspensions or charges.
Still, many social media users are defending the original post and the Black Lives Matter hashtag, citing that the organization is not a hate group and not anti-police but instead focused on anti-violence and racial profiling.
Civil Rights activist and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton also added his voice to the debate. “Why is she apologizing for putting up a slogan about the fight we are all involved in?” he asked in an interview with the NY Daily News. “Our slogan used to be ‘We shall overcome,’ now it’s ‘Black Lives Matter.’”
“You forget the fights of yesterday if you’re trying to avoid the slogans of today,” Sharpton added.
Deputy Holmes comes from a family of police officers. One of four sisters, Holmes’ eldest sibling is Assistant Chief Juanita Holmes, the first black woman in the NYPD to become a borough command. She’s currently the commanding officer of Patrol for Borough Queens North.
Holmes has not yet committed publicly on the hashtag controversy.