By Steve Pomper
Louisiana Supreme Court & State Court of Appeals
We have a refreshing update regarding a case of a New Orleans Police Sergeant Anthony Edenfield fired for posting “racially insensitive” comments on social media. NPA has been keeping its eye on the case. A family member, obviously concerned about Anthony’s treatment by the NOPD, updated us, which I will get to later in this article.
But first, a little background to catch you up on the case he just won in the Louisiana Supreme Court. It wasn’t easy, taking nearly three years.
Imagine being the 20-year veteran cop on the other side of this memo (above) your chief wrote about you. You’re a stellar officer who serves in the Homicide Division, which is typically reserved for only the most qualified and experienced professionals, but no matter.
Rather than waiting to digest the information in context or allow an investigation to be completed, your boss goes all knee-jerk woke, which alienates cops to the delight of the cop-haters. That’s too often how things go these days. She was not the chief of police but the chief of mayor.
Chief Michelle Woodfork seems so proud of “maintaining public trust.” But what “public” does she mean? As I wrote last year at NPA about this case, “To which ‘public’ is he [then]-Superintendent Shaun Ferguson] referring that ‘trust’ is threatened? Radical leftist cop-haters, right? Has there ever been a vaguer policy than activities that threaten the public trust?”
According to “NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -A sergeant with New Orleans police has been fired for what the department calls ‘racially insensitive and inappropriate’ social media posts.”
Posting on social media, frustrated by the riots and lack of enforcement, Sgt. Edenfield said, “This s*** has moved on from being about George Floyd. These idiots want to act like animals, block the road and start a checkpoint asking people if they are police officers? I am running them over and shooting if lethal force were my only way out. The a****** under the truck got what he deserved.”
“[I]f lethal force were my only way out,” may be an emotional rant, but it’s technically accurate and legal, and for cops, “lethal force” is a last resort.
FOX 8 News reported Sgt. Edenfield’s conduct was a “violation of the NOPD Professional Conduct and Moral Conduct policies.” There are occasions when officers may be disciplined for off-duty activities deemed “unprofessional.”
But, in this case, Sgt. Edenfield expressed a sentiment with which at least half of mainstream Americans agree. As for “immoral,” morality played no part in the posts—unless it’s immoral to disagree with city and department officials’ political viewpoints, which align with the leftist radicals.
Ferguson said, “Activities that threaten the public trust in the New Orleans Police Department are unacceptable.” And “Our officers are held to a higher standard, and this type of behavior cannot and will not be tolerated.” A higher or impossible standard?
Were Sgt. Edenfield’s comments insensitive? I’m honest enough to understand that from other perspectives, like their families or comrades, they would see it that way. However, even if the posts were found to be insensitive, termination of an exemplary two-decade veteran seems excessive, right? Sgt. Edenfield primarily referred to those people’s lawless actions.
Regardless, where is the proof what he posted was racially insensitive? In my NPA article, I wrote, “My issue is with the political alchemy that somehow morphs the sergeant’s comments into ‘racially insensitive.’ This, of course, elevates the ‘offense’ to allow for more severe discipline because it infers racism” solely because the person was from a politically protected class.
For example, he disparaged former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s anti-cop daughter, Chiara de Blasio, after she was arrested at a BLM riot in Manhattan in 2020, disobeying the NYPD.
According to the New York Post, a witness described the scene: “That was a real hotspot, police cars were getting burned there, people were throwing and yelling, fighting with cops. There were thousands of people in that area at that time.” But she’s half black, so it’s somehow racially insensitive (racist) to criticize her bad behavior.
During testimony, Sgt. Edenfield said he was also emotional after his daughter said she worried something would happen to him at work, during the protests.
The civil service commission ruled the then-NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson “did not consider mitigating factors, including the officer’s 20-year work history with no disciplinary actions, his emotional state at the time, and the earlier posts supportive of racial harmony.”
However, Ferguson showed his bias in favor of “woke” when he reiterated that he felt firing Edenfield “was the right decision…” because of his belief the sergeant had compromised his credibility. With who? The cop haters?
“‘Superintendent Ferguson testified Edenfield’s ability to lead other officers and his ability to testify in court were compromised because of his comments,’ the Civil Service ruling said.”
“‘Sgt. Edenfield made numerous offensive comments on social media, and such action compromised the officer’s ability to testify in court or lead other officers,’ the Fourth Circuit ruling said. Certain reprehensible acts of a police officer, under any circumstance, are prejudicial to the efficient operation of the police department.”
Reprehensible? That sounds more like a personal opinion than a legal finding.
And, though admittedly harsh, Sgt. Edenfield expressed himself within context, emotionally frustrated and exercising his First Amendment free speech rights. He was off duty, not speaking for the NOPD, and should not have been terminated. Fortunately, Louisiana’s highest court agreed.
According to The Louisiana Weekly, “(Veritenews.org) — A New Orleans Police Department sergeant who was fired over incendiary and ‘racially insensitive’ social media posts during the George Floyd demonstrations in 2020 will keep his job after the Louisiana Supreme Court on Tuesday (Feb. 7) reversed a lower court’s ruling that found he should be terminated.” The Court reduced Edenfield’s termination to a suspension.
“Edenfield has also filed a federal civil rights suit against the city claiming that the disciplinary actions taken against him for his online comments violated his First Amendment rights. The city has moved for the December 2022 suit to be dismissed, but the judge presiding over the case has yet to rule on the motion.”
Neither the NOPD nor Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office responded to requests for comment on Tuesday’s state Supreme Court ruling. But Madame Mayor has her own problems.
Also, from my previous article, here’s how the cop-hating “alchemy” I alluded to above works: “brand officers as ‘biased/corrupt/racist’ based on a partisan political ideological assessment of ‘inappropriate and racially insensitive’ comments, ban them from testifying in court, and then fire them because they can’t testify in court. Must be nice to be the masters of a two-tiered ‘social’ justice system.”
In closing, an email I received from an Edenfield family member included comments that provide insights into this Sgt. Edenfield’s character from those who know him best.
“I got to see his African American colleagues walk up to him smiling with hugs and handshakes, thanking God it was all finally done.”
“[He] always said how much your [NPA] article meant to him. It destroyed him to be falsely labeled a racist. NOPD is a predominantly African American department.”
“Everyone who knows [him] and the neighborhood in New Orleans where he grew up actually laughed about him being labeled a racist.”
These “woke” police and city officials need to wake up. Nearly every cop in America felt like Sgt. Edenfield at times, during the BLM/Antifa riots. But he made the “mistake” of exercising his constitutional rights and saying it “out loud.” Officers across America joined in his frustration, watching a gaslighting media reported on violent rioters, calling them “mostly peaceful protesters.”
These “mostly peaceful protesters,” perpetrated 574 riots, caused at least $2 billion in property destruction, and injured too many people (25 were murders), including some 2000 cops, to make that believable.