SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — A Springfield Police detective is speaking out, saying she was fired for posting a pro-Black Lives Matter message on Instagram.
Florissa Fuentes was recently promoted to detective in the Special Victims Unit. Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, she said she recognized there’s a problem in policing.
After her post on Instagram caught the interest of the commissioner and the mayor, she said that problem became a chasm.
“Racism is alive, and until people start taking action things won’t change,” she said. “I feel like no real matter what position I took I wasn’t likely to win.”
Florissa Fuentes said she desired to show support for her niece, who attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Atlanta, in the wake of George Floyd’s police-involved death.
At the end of May, Fuentes, a Springfield Police detective, shared from her personal Instagram account, a photo of her niece at the protest. Her niece’s sign said “Shut the f*** right back,” and another person in the picture held an indication saying “Who do we call when the murder wears the badge.”
Fuentes said it wasn’t a long time before her coworkers reacted negatively and supervisors, along with Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood called her in.
“Said you understand, I don’t wanna fire you. There’s a lot of people here that are upset regarding your post, and you need certainly to fix this,” Clapprood explained.
Fuentes removed the post and later, wrote an apology to her colleagues on the police union’s Facebook page. However, Fuentes removed that post too over some comments she considered threatening.
“Some people said I didn’t deserve to wear a badge. Others told me I stabbed them in their backs,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes also said she continued to are accountable to work and was called in again by the department’s Internal Investigation Unit, learning her post had made its way up the city chain of command.
“The mayor’s office is highly upset. It doesn’t look great for me,” Fuentes said.
On June 19, Fuentes said she was called by the union president Joseph Gentile with a selection, resign, or get fired. She told Western Mass News after speaking with the union attorney, she returned to Joseph and chose termination.
“Joe told me that I didn’t have the proper to appeal because I’m on probation, even though I pay union dues,” Fuentes explained.
Western Mass News has now reached out to Commissioner Clapprood, saying quote:
“This was Ms. Fuentes’ second infraction during her probationary period. Complaints about her social media post came from co-workers, who were hurt by it and questioned her stance on the quote that advocated shooting police officers. I decided to terminate her employment.”
We also reached out to the union for a statement.
A police career cut short, but Fuentes hopes not forever and the single mother of three, said she hopes to utilize this experience going forward to fight for change.
“I was very dedicated to my position at the Springfield Police Department,” she said. “I’m an indigenous of the town, and my heart is by using the city. If I could get my job back, I might go inside with my head high and do my job.”
“There can’t be double standards here. You need certainly to remain consistent,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.
Sarno said he feels Fuentes violated the city’s social media policy.
“A few years ago with the Charlottesville incident with another officer with the derogatory comments, you can’t do that,” Sarno noted.
Sarno was referring to the 2017 firing of a Springfield police officer following the officer commented, “Hahahaha love this. Maybe people shouldn’t block roadways” on a social media marketing story in regards to a protester, who had been killed after having a car rammed into a number of Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrators.
When asked if the social media marketing posts ultimately causing each officer firing were comparable, Sarno had this to say:
“They were, it’s derogatory comments,” he said. “So the idea here is that you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.”
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