NJ police officer says she was fired over Facebook post calling Black Lives Matter protesters ‘terrorists’
'I was devastated,' former Hopewell Township Police Officer Sara Erwin said
A New Jersey police officer told "Fox & Friends First" on Wednesday that she was "devastated" after she was fired over a Facebook post where she called Black Lives Matter protesters "terrorists."
Former Hopewell Township police officer Sara Erwin explained what prompted her to write the post that she said led to her losing her job.
A second officer, Sgt. Mandy Gray, who appeared with Erwin on the show, was suspended and demoted for liking the June 2020 post. Both Erwin and Gray each have 20 years of experience, according to their attorney Frank Crivelli, who argued their treatment was unjust and excessively harsh.
Gray was the first female officer hired in Hopewell Township and became the first female sergeant when she was promoted in 2019, NJ.com reported, noting that she will lose the rank in the demotion.
Erwin noted on Wednesday that she wrote the Facebook post during a lot of "turmoil" that was taking place following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin. His death sparked protests and riots in cities across the country.
Erwin reportedly wrote in the post: "Last night as I left for work I had my two kids crying for me not to go to work. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the way I did last night. And then I watched people I know and others I care about going into harms way. I love my police family like my own. So when you share posts and things on Facebook I’d really appreciate if you’d THINK before doing so. I’ve seen so many black lives matter [sic] hashtags in these posts. Just to let you know — they are terrorists. They hate me. They hate my uniform. They don’t care if I die."
On Wednesday she explained, "I had friends, family, tons of people reaching out, text messages, phone calls, reaching out through messenger, checking on me and making sure everything was OK cause they were seeing so many things in the news."
"I felt it was easiest to put what I was feeling and get a message out there that I was home [and] I was safe," she continued.
Erwin said it was "emotional time."
She added that she "was worried about other officers" that she knew in other cities.
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"I’m hearing things, I’m getting alerts on my phone and news sources, and it was just a really difficult couple of days," Erwin continued.
Gray explained that she showed support for Erwin after they had a "very emotional conversation" at work.
"I had to send one of my officers into a neighboring city that was having riots. It was just a very emotional night," Gray said.
"I knew where she [Erwin] was coming from because of the conversation we had had earlier in the evening when she made that post and I hearted it in support in showing my love."
Erwin said she is "still devastated" that she was fired from the department.
"I have never been in trouble in my entire career," she said, noting that she has always been "a rule follower."
NJ.com noted that Erwin is "popular" in the Hopewell Valley community, having served as a DARE officer in the school system.
Crivelli called Erwin and Grey "outstanding" and "decorated officers."
"The thing that’s really important to remember here is not only have they never been disciplined during their career, they’ve never even had a single internal affairs investigation lodged against them at any point in time," he stressed.
Crivelli then explained that in New Jersey "we have a policy called ‘progressive discipline,’ where in which you look at the entire officer and their entire career."
He then stressed that in this situation, there is nothing more "than a policy violation at best and that’s if in fact, they get past the argument that their First Amendment rights don’t apply in this situation."
Crivelli said he is appealing the decisions and is "extremely confident in regard to our position."
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The town made the decisions on Friday evening through its council, which voted unanimously to accept the recommendations of a hearing officer, NJ.com reported.
Hopewell Township Mayor Julie Blake did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. However, NJ.com reported that she had declined to discuss the matter, citing personnel confidentiality.
A spokesperson with the Hopewell Township Police Department also did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
"We know we are on the right side of the law in this instance," Crivelli said.