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Demonstration held in downtown Columbia over police union’s Facebook post

Some community members are criticizing a recent Facebook post in support of former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

The Columbia, Missouri Police Officers’ Association posted the comment on its Facebook page Sunday morning.

The comment read “Our Support for Officer Wilson has nothing to do with race or anything else other than the fact that he was thoroughly investigated, twice, once by the state of Missouri and once by President Obama’s Justice Department, and BOTH investigations found he did NOTHING wrong.Yet, he lost his job and his career (again…even though he was found to have done nothing wrong.) So, yes, we stand by this innocent, but persecuted, officer.”

The post also included a picture that reads “Darren Wilson Day – Aug. 9th, 2015. We will always have your 6.”

The post had been shared nearly 60 times as of Monday morning.

Dale Roberts, Executive Director of the Columbia Police Officers’ Association, said he shared the post from another Missouri Fraternal Order of Police Facebook page.

“We’re a police officers union,” said Dale Roberts, Executive Director of the Columbia Police Officers’ Association. “We support other police officers who have had to go through these kind of circumstances and in this case we support and have officer Wilson’s back for what he lost in spite of being cleared and having not done anything illegal.”

It prompted a community member to organize a demonstration in downtown Columbia Monday afternoon. Officials tell us Tyree Byndum organized the event. It started at noon.

“We can be one of the top college cities in the world,” Byndum said. “But if we have diversity, but not a richness in diversity, it’s just a shimmer – it’s not real.”

Columbia’s City Manager Mike Matthes, the assistant city manager and the police chief were seen locking arms with demonstrators downtown.

Missouri NAACP President Mary Ratliff was also at the protest.

“It just really betrays the community and shows the lack of trust when we have police officers coming out supporting people like Darren Wilson,” said Ratliff. “We need to get those bad apples out of the police department so we can move forward and try to make some progress.”

The Columbia Police Department also released a statement this morning saying it does not condone the post. In part the statement said “This post has served to inflame the emotions of some in our community. The Columbia Police Department is working hard to strengthen community relations in Columbia and is committed to developing positive relationships with the people we serve.”

The Columbia Police Department is a separate entity from CPOA.

Roberts tells ABC 17 News CPOA replaced the post with a clarification just before one Monday afternoon.

It read “The CPOA’s post on Sunday regarding Darren Wilson was interpreted in a manner that was not the intended message. In an effort to resolve the confusion, the CPOA wants to say this plainly: CPOA supports Officer Darren Wilson and all law enforcement officers who endure similar situations.”

“I think some people misread it and made it into something inflammatory,” he said. “People seem to think it’s anti-Mike Brown somehow and that was never part of the message at all.”

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