A Louisiana police officer almost resigned from his job after sharing a racist Facebook meme. Then, he became his town’s police chief.
Almost two years ago, Wayne Welsh, then assistant police chief of Estherwood, came across a meme on Facebook and shared it. The image depicted a white woman pushing the face of a white girl underwater in a bathtub.
“When your daughters (sic) first crush is a little negro boy,” the meme reads.
Welsh was suspended from his job after sharing it, and he later apologized. When the spot for police chief was vacated last year, he was the interim for nine months. He ran unopposed for police chief last November.
The village is predominantly white, and less than 5% of the population is African-American, according to the 2010 census. Six black residents declined to be interviewed on the record, saying they feared retaliation.
Welsh declined to be interviewed. He sent a text message to CNN, saying he doesn’t think the meme was racist and “it was just sharing something off Facebook.”
He wrote, “What happen(ed) two years ago is behind me and my punishment was done to me and now I’m moving forward with my life and as the new chief of police.”
Some residents in Estherwood, a village of about 900 people about 30 miles west of Lafayette, don’t have a problem with Welsh or the meme he shared.
“It doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, he’s still here to do his job and he does it to the fullest and he would give you the shirt off his back whether you are black, white, Mexican, Asian,” Tyler Lantier, 20, said. Lantier said the police chief has been doing a good job so far.
Estherwood Mayor Donald Popp thinks it was all a big misunderstanding.
“As the new mayor I don’t see any problems or foresee any future problems with him. I was hoping this would have been taken care of,” Popp said.
Popp was not mayor at the time Welsh was suspended.
CNN’s Nicole Chavez wrote from Atlanta, Nick Valencia and LaRell Reynolds reported from Estherwood, Louisiana.