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Akron cop accused of online threat against Minister Farrakhan suspended with pay

By Michael Z. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Nov 14, 2018 - 9:13:37 AM

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(l-r) Officer James Anthony, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, Attorney Eddie Sipplin

An Akron police officer is on paid leave while an internal investigation is underway for an offensive message he is accused of posting to his private Facebook page that threatened Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.

“How is it that no one has offed that dipshit asshat, Farrakhan?” read the October 30 post on the Facebook page of James Anthony, a 23-year veteran of the Akron Police Department, according to numerous reports. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan suspended the officer.

“The city of Akron is aware of the comments found on the Facebook page of an APD officer. The views expressed in this post are not those of the city or of the Akron Police Department. Furthermore, comments made by any employee condoning violence or bigotry or any type of hate will never be tolerated,” the mayor said in a statement.  

Student Minister Steven Muhammad

Student Minister Steven Muhammad, Akron’s Nation of Islam local representative in a telephone interview with The Final Call stated the comments represent a type of thinking that is of great concern. “Other members of the Akron Police Department are Facebook friends with this officer, and none of them took the liberty to correct his language. One individual even cautioned him to ‘go easy on the rhetoric,’ ” he said.

“As the representative of Minister Farrakhan in the City of Akron, a threat to him is a threat toward me, toward us and the population that we serve (those poor and disenfranchised),” he told The Final Call.

Appearing before the Akron City Council on November 5, Student Min. Muhammad addressed the threats, telling council members that racism, hatred, and vitriol could lead to conduct unbecoming of an officer.  There are many who work for the Akron Police Department who are sincere, determined to protect and serve, said Student Min. Muhammad, adding that he respects those who are in authority.

“We have seen no evidence or redirection or objection to any of his language. While people are free to share their ideas and views, even beliefs, the conflict here is in the application of service to many of the same people who [the officer] espouses to despise,” he continued.

Akron is situated less than 40 miles south of Cleveland and has a population of approximately 198,000; 62.2 percent of residents are White and 31.5 percent are Black.  

Akron attorney Eddie Sipplin in a telephone interview with The Final Call said he initially heard about the comments from con

Student Min. Steven Muhammad addresses Akron City Council regarding alleged online threat by Akron police officer against Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.

cerned White Akron police officers who were chagrinned by the comments. 

“Some White officers were highly offended by the Facebook post,” he said. “They ask me if there is anything I could do about this because the police administration isn’t. Anthony’s supervisor knew about it, and nothing was being done. After receiving the post, I made Brother Steve aware, telling him an officer espousing those types of views puts all of us in danger,” argued Atty. Sipplin. 

“The goal was to get other community members involved so it wouldn’t be just a problem for the Nation. I gave other media outlets a heads up and that’s how the story broke,” he added.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, police spokesman Lt. Rick Edwards said city officials first learned about the officer’s alleged Oct. 30 comment through TV station WKYC’s initial report on Nov. 3. The Final Call called Akron police for additional comments from Lt. Edwards, but he was not available by press time.

City Councilperson At-Large Veronica Sims told The Final Call that she would like to see the investigation take its full course. “Like many others in the community I found the incident quite disturbing,” she said. “Our officers, in general, are committed to the health and safety of the community.”

Attorney Sipplin argued Off. Anthony should have lost his job immediately. “From my standpoint what should have been done is this guy should have been immediately fired. The mayor’s office is having many problems with the police department and their image especially when it comes to relations with Black folks in the community,” he said.

“He carries a gun and is espousing the killing of a leader. Minister Farrakhan is a leader and a public official. It’s not because the Minister leads the Nation of Islam but because he is a Black man. He should have been fired and let the union try to get his job back because his paid administrative leave is nothing more than a paid vacation.”