Update: Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno announced Thursday that Darryl Moss has been fired. Read more here.
Standing before a large crowd of supporters outside Springfield City Hall Wednesday, community activist and mayoral aide Darryl Moss publicly addressed an investigation into his use of social media and the need for representation in government.
“More important than voting, we have to put ourselves in the position to be voted for,” Moss told the crowd. “So, I’ll close with this, prepare to vote for me.”
He didn’t specify which seat he is considering.
The announcement came amid an investigation into his personal Facebook page and whether a recent post violated the city’s social media policy.
“This is equal to a declaration of war… but this is America! Sundown Sunrise [expletive] Country,” Moss wrote alongside a headline from a Huffington Post article regarding President Trump expressing support for Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old facing multiple homicide charges in connection with a shooting that left two people dead and a third seriously injured during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Tagging a fellow Springfield resident, Moss ended the post, “Yo, Keshawn Dodds, grab the rifles!”
In a statement read on Moss’ behalf, he said this Facebook post was an allusion to the HBO show “Lovecraft Country,” set in the 1950s.
Sundown Sunrise was a reference to the era of segregation during which Black Americans were allowed in all-white communities during the day and faced the threat of violence or arrest after sundown.
Through the statement read aloud on his behalf, Moss said this “cultural context on the post” was missing from media coverage earlier this week.
An article was published on Monday with the headline, “Springfield mayoral aide, community activist Darryl Moss under investigation for alleged violation of city’s social media policy.”
The article addresses the investigation in Moss’ recent Facebook post and the city’s social media policy.
Springfield created a social media policy in recent years after Springfield Police Officer Conrad Lariviere was fired for mocking a protester killed by a driver during an anti-police violence protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Hahahaha love this, maybe people shouldn’t block road ways,” Lariviere wrote in a Facebook comment on a news article about the crash.
Lariviere was fired, a decision he challenged last year though his termination was upheld.
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno released a statement confirming the investigation into Moss’ use of social media.
“It has been brought to my attention that Darryl Moss, one of my staff members, has allegedly violated our social media policy,” Sarno said in a message to other department heads late Friday afternoon. “As we have done with other similar cases, I am asking for a complete review and investigation of the matter. I will personally be involved in this review as this is a member of my staff.”
Moss has not been placed on administrative leave, William Baker, a spokesman for the mayor, said on Monday.
In days since, members of Springfield’s Black community have rallied behind Moss.
The individual tagged in the post, Keshawn Dodds, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club Family Center in Springfield called the investigation a “public assassination” and a “humiliation” of a man who loves the city and has “literally risked his life to save people on many, many occasions.
“His words were taken out of context and he was treated like a thug, a criminal,” Dodds said.
Dodds was one of several who spoke on Moss’ behalf Wednesday.
At-large City Councilor Tracye Whitfield accused some in city government of using this investigation to “take attention off the DOJ report,” referencing a report released by the U.S. Department of Justice in August accusing the city’s narcotics unit of routinely using excessive force and doctoring reports.
“You’re using resources to target and attack my brother, Darryl,” said Whitfield. “When Darryl does nothing but help the community.”
Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, spoke of the deep divide between the city’s police department and its majority-minority population and called for the resignation of police commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
“Five days before the DOJ report came out, Commissioner Clapprood sent me an email and told me, ‘Bishop, we don’t have a problem with police brutality in Springfield, we have a problem with young black boys in gangs.’ Five days before the DOJ report,” said Swan. “She stood in a press conference with the mayor and said the recommendations of the DOJ [the police department are] already working on.”
“How in the hell could you already be working on mitigating police brutality when five days before that you said it didn’t exist in our city,” Swan pointed out.
Swan said that the gap between the city’s majority-minority community and the police was bridged by Moss. He said Moss served as a irreplaceable liaison for city hall.
“If you decide to terminate him – and I want to tell you, if you decide to do anything with Darryl Moss – we’ll be back. There’ll be more of us than who’s here now and trust me, my brothers and sisters. We will not stand idly by and allow you to mistreat this gentleman and allow you to do wrong by him.”
Moss and the other speakers told MassLive that they would not be answering questions after the press conference.
Swan indirectly referenced the mayor, saying, “We will stand by him and we will challenge your administration”
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