During the weekend, Parkland school shooting survivors staged a “die-in” at a Publix supermarket. Apparently, the act did not sit well with a Coconut Creek K-9 officer Brian Valenti.
The students were holding the protest at Publix, which had donated $670,000 to Florida gubernatorial candidate, Adam Putnam, who describes himself a “proud #NRASellout.” Opposing the gun lobby, which is indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of children in the country, is part of the gun-control mission of the #NeverAgain activists.
So, David Hogg — one of the most prominent youthful voices against gun violence and unrestricted gun access — and other activists arrived outside a Coral Springs Publix store and drew 17 chalk silhouettes in the parking lot, a reference to the teachers and students who lost their life in the Feb. 14 massacre.
It was inevitable a lot of people, especially pro-gun aficionados, would disapprove of the protest. David Hogg, in particular, has been the target of right-wing talking heads for his anti-gun stance.
However, this latest protest did not sit well with a police officer. In fact, Officer Valenti wished some of them would just meet a sudden and unexpected death — rather like the one the students narrowly escaped during their school shooting, maybe?
“Hope some old lady loses control of her car in that lot. Jus saying…..” wrote Valenti in his Facebook page, accompanied by a photo of Hogg, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Then realizing everyone could see his post, Valenti, who has been in the department for 23 years, deleted it. But not before another Facebook user saw the post, took a screenshot and sent it to the Coconut Creek police Department.
Kim Simonson, the whistleblower, urged the police department commissioners and Police Chief Butch Arenal to suspend or fire the officer.
“Whether someone agrees with these students or not, it is in very poor taste for a police officer to make the following comment regarding students that have just been through a tragic shooting,” she wrote.
Rod Skirvin, a retired detective, said Valenti was “distraught” over the incident.
“He feels terrible and is very willing to apologize in person,” he said. “We are going to speak to the chief on Tuesday when he goes back to work. There will be disciplinary repercussions for him.”
However, the police department has not specified what exactly his punishment will be.
“The officer admitted that it was in poor taste, and indicated that it was meant as a joke, but certainly didn’t come off that way,” said Arenal. “It is for that reason that he thought it better to remove the post. He will be offering an apology, as he has indicated that he wants to do whatever he has to do to make it right.”
However, Simonson has not accepted the apology.
“The fact that he stated to you that he considers running over children with a car to be a joke, should definitely send off some alarm bells in the heads of the supervisors in your town,” she wrote. “That isn’t the type of person I would like representing my community all over Facebook and beyond.”
Despite the unpleasantness, it appears the protest by the Parkland survivors was successful, even before it started. Just minutes before the “die-in” began, Publix announced it would no longer be funding politicians.
Hogg hailed the victory on Twitter:
The young people will win. https://t.co/lBjWSbP9Y4— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) May 25, 2018
So when are we doing a die-in at Trump Hotel?— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) May 28, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Joe Raedle/Getty Images