SUNY Potsdam apologizes over campus police Facebook post

Updated: Jun. 1, 2020 at 5:46 PM EDT
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POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - As protests pop up around the country in reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a Facebook post has SUNY Potsdam apologizing.

Just as protests grew over the weekend in Potsdam, a posting appeared on the SUNY Potsdam Police Facebook page. It said, “If you are anti-police, I’m blue family, unfriend me.” Then the message wasn’t there.

Police Chief Tim Ashley apologized with a second post.

It read in part: “This morning a member of our team inappropriately shared a very insensitive post on our Facebook page. While the post was immediately taken down, we don’t want to diminish the hurt and frustration that you may be feeling.”

The university says there's an investigation of how the “Blue Lives Matter” post got there. They say a police department employee posted it without the chief's approval. The university confirms it respects police but says context matters.

“The issue being there’s a national conversation happening right now about how black lives matter. And we can’t try to drown that out in anyway,” said Alexandria Jacobs Wilke, SUNY Potsdam public relations director.

A protest over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police took place Sunday in Potsdam. There was another planned for Monday.

The campus is largely shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. There are hardly any students there. So the Facebook posting received much less attention than it might have at other times.”

Still, it was seen.

University President Kristin Esterberg sent a letter of apology to all students and staff.

It read in part: “We have a responsibility to our entire campus community to treat everyone with the same dignity and respect – and we have to acknowledge whenever we fall short, as happened today, and take steps to make things right immediately.”

The university now plans to hold a virtual town hall later this week to provide a forum on social justice issues. The day and time are yet to be set.

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