Meridian Township Hosts Press Conference On Racial Comments
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Meridian Township Manager, Frank L. Walsh, and Meridian Fire Chief, Mike Hamel, hosted a public press conference earlier today. The conference was held to announce the internal investigation of a member of the Meridian Township Fire Department.
Within the last 24 hours, the member in question allegedly posted racial comments on a Facebook post about Robert E. Lee High School in Virginia. The school had made the decision to change their name. The member wrote “BLDM” which translates to “Black Lives Don’t Matter”. When people commented asking what the acronym meant, he responded by saying “did I stutter”, “do I need to clear my throat” and finally “they don’t”. The comments were forwarded to the Meridian Fire Department by a Virginian woman. Walsh wrote in a press release that, "these comments were abhorrent and stained the soul of the community."
During the press conference, Walsh thanked the woman for her courage to report the comments. He made a formal apology to Black Lives Matter as well as the Meridian Community.
“We have a very educated and diverse community here in Meridian Township,” Walsh said. “One that is very welcoming, and we’re known for our diversity. Not just in the region but throughout the state. And again, the comments that were posted on Facebook in the last 24 hours do not reflect our community and our soul.”
The alleged member will be given due process and the investigation is expected to conclude by Friday. There will be another conference explaining the results of the investigation once it is wrapped up. The alleged member is currently not scheduled to report for duty until the investigation in over. Walsh also announced that there will also be a community conversation on policing hosted in August to work with the community on improving the department and its diversity.
One step the Meridian Township Board has already made, is that they are actively looking for diverse candidates to become police officers. They had even set aside money to pay for their academy training and to pay them wages while they attend. Walsh even mentioned the possibility of increasing that program to pay for people to receive Fire Training and EMT Academy training.
Walsh went on to encourage people to report any injustices or discrimination they receive from their police and fire departments.
“If there is an act of injustice or racial discrimination or bias, we want to know about it,” Walsh said. “It’s all in steps to get better and we can’t get better if people don’t let us know about those situations that may have occurred.”
Walsh said that racial injustices can be reported by calling Meridian Township, or by calling or emailing the police chief, the fire chief, or himself.