<What about Sgt. McCarthy’s Rights??? Ed.>
GREENFIELD — Nearly a year after a Greenfield police sergeant was alleged to have hung a Confederate flag at the rear of his garage, the town’s Human Rights Commission has released the findings of its investigation into the incident.
In a statement co-authored by Commission Chairman Philippe Simon and former Chairman Lewis Metaxas, the commission says that the Confederate battle flag represents a generally accepted symbol of racial and class oppression in American history and culture, but its display by private citizens constitutes a constitutionally protected right of free speech and free expression. However, the commission stated it believes that a public official or employee — especially a police officer — should refrain from displaying the flag in both their public and private lives, as to do so would be racially and culturally insensitive.
The controversy arose last November when a Confederate flag was spotted inside the garage of Greenfield Police Detective Sgt. Daniel McCarthy, who was also the Police Department’s liaison to the commission. The flag was hanging in the rear of the garage and only visible when the door was open.
“In the Greenfield matter of this past year, the commission, after due diligence in ascertaining the facts, and with minimal cooperation by police and other town officials, must conclude that Greenfield Police sergeant McCarthy possessed such a flag at his place of residence though it most likely was not his intent to exhibit it to the public,” the commission stated. “Further, the commission believes that it is inappropriate to have a liaison relationship with a Greenfield police officer representing the Greenfield Police Department who knowingly possesses said flag absent explanation of his beliefs or the circumstances connected with the possession of the flag.”
The statement goes on to say that the commission remains open and eager to further discuss the matter with the police department.
“The commission believes that conciliation and reconciliation in this particular matter is not only possible, but probable, if good faith is pursued by all parties,” it reads.
During several meetings on the flag controversy, McCarthy was largely silent on the issue and criticism of him, and has offered no public explanation about the flag, which is gone from the garage.
He said in one meeting that he agreed the situation upset some people and that he didn’t intend to offend anyone. He said that he harbors no hatred or racism in his heart, and in 25 years on the force he has always been concerned about everybody’s quality of life.
Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Mayor William Martin said Haigh will continue to serve as the Police Department’s point of contact for the commission.
“When there is a request for the liaison, the chief or I will make their meeting, but these advisory boards cannot expect to have municipal employees at their evening meetings because they have daily duties,” Martin said. “Because of the experience that Sgt. McCarthy was having at the Human Rights Commission, it was obvious that some of the members and some of the audience was not pleased with his presence, and rather than create and add to the sandstorm of indifference, it was moved that the chief would take over, and if he can’t make it, I’ll make it.”
In light of its findings, the commission stated that the town of Greenfield should be an example of embracing diversity, upholding equal rights for all and creating a welcome atmosphere. Symbols of hate, racism or bias have no place in the public of personal lives of community members, the statement said.
“Our best option, as representatives of our town, would be to challenge these symbols and accompanying ideas, when encountered, with compassion, knowledge and understanding,” the commission stated.
From Southern Wire NewsOriginal Story