Michigan police chief suspended after calling protesters ‘barbarians’

The chief of police in a suburban township in the Detroit area has been suspended for 30 days after a series of inflammatory social media posts, including calling Black Lives Matter protesters “barbarians.”

Trustees for Shelby Township put Robert J. Shelide on paid administrative leave earlier this month after a series of tweets from a locked account in which he called people protesting police brutality and racism “barbarians” and called for “unleash[ing] the real cops,” adding “I promise it will be over in 24 hours.”

In another tweet, in response to a video of protesters blocking a freeway, Shelide tweeted, “I would hit them with tear gas and water cannons. Rubber bullets. They have no right to be on the freeway.”

In response to a clip of several men attacking a woman with two-by-fours, he tweeted, “Wild savages. I wish to God I would have been there. Body bags for these vicious subhumans.”

Township trustees on Tuesday night voted 5-2 to suspend Shelide for 30 days without pay, during which time he will be required to undergo diversity training, The Associated Press reported.

Shelide, who has apologized, insisted before the board that he was not a racist, adding “I bleed blue. This isn’t a job for me. This is a calling. It’s in my DNA.”

Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis and trustee Vince Viviano, both of whom voted against the suspension, said they cast their votes because they were in favor of firing Shelide outright.

“It’s essential — not just important — but essential that Chief Shelide be removed from his position,” Stathakis said. “Maybe he can reinvent himself, not here, not in Shelby Township. The damage has been done. The police department needs a fresh start.”

Trustee Lynn Wilhem, meanwhile, defended Shelide as “not espousing racism” but rather “responding to rioters among those protesting.”

Justin Mann, an African American resident of the 90 percent white township, told the AP he was disappointed by the board’s apparent defense of Shelide, saying, “What really disgusted me was the committee’s remarks as most of them defended our chief of police.”

Tags Black Lives Matter George Floyd Michigan Police Protests Robert Shelide

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