Springfield City Hall Firing Over Facebook Post Is Questioned
A longtime aide to the mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts was fired this week because of things he said on Facebook. It threatens to worsen relations between City Hall and Springfield’s Black community.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said his decision to fire Darryl Moss is consistent with his “zero tolerance” stance on violations of the city’s social media policy. Others see the punishment as too harsh and damaging to race relations in the city.
Moss had worked for Sarno since the later became mayor 12 years ago. He’s had several roles in the administration including directing initiatives on youth violence, serving as deputy communications director, and most recently was in charge of constituent services.
In a written statement announcing Moss’ firing, Sarno said he was “treated in the same fair and consistent manner as with other similar social media violations.” At a news conference Thursday on the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarno refused further comment.
On Wednesday evening, Moss rallied with about 50 people on the front steps of City Hall where several prominent leaders of the Black community gave him their full-throated support.
"Darryl Moss is a good man, a good husband, a good father," said Rev. Johnnie Mohammad of Mosque #13 of the Nation of Islam. "What is taking place is wrong. He is being victimized by a wicked system."
Mohammad and other speakers said Moss was an important liaison between the mayor’s office and the Black community.
"He has stood by this mayor for 12 years, keeping the community at bay, keeping violence down," said Mohammad. "The reason why this city has not blown up is because Darryl Moss has his hand on the community."
What apparently got Moss into hot water was a post on his personal Facebook page on September 2nd. It linked a Huffington Post story about President Trump defending Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of shooting and killing two people during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Milwaukee.
Moss wrote “This is equal to a declaration of war…but this is America! Sundown Sunrise ass country.” He then tagged a friend saying. “Yo ..grab the rifles.”
By way of a statement read on his behalf at Wednesday’s rally, Moss explained the Facebook post consisted of references to HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.” It is a drama-horror series set in 1950s Jim Crow America. He denied the post was an endorsement of violence.
Springfield City Council President Justin Hurst said termination of employment for what he described as a “Facebook faux pas” is harsh.
“The mayor’s application of the Facebook policy is far too rigid and inevitably was going to result in good people who have a lot to offer this city being let go,” Hurst said.
Hurst noted that he opposed the firing in 2017 of former Springfield police officer Conrad Lariviere after he wrote comments on Facebook mocking the death of a protestor in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"It should serve as teaching moments and foster constructive dialogue that ultimately brings unity to this city," said Hurst adding, "These are trying times."
Earlier this year, Springfield police detective Florissa Fuentes was fired after sharing an Instagram photo of a niece at a Black Lives Matter protest in Atlanta with a sign that read “Shoot the f…back.” Fuentes sued this week claiming she was wrongly terminated.
After the firing of Moss, State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, a Springfield Democrat, issued a statement urging the mayor and City Council to scrap the social media policy.
Moss did not return a call seeking comment. At Wednesday’s rally, he hinted at running for public office.
"I am going to close with this, prepare to vote for me," Moss said.
On his Facebook page, Moss posted a picture of his termination letter and wrote, “Fired!!! Now the fun begins!!!”