Who is Sara Erwin? New Jersey cop fired for calling BLM protesters ‘terrorists’ on FB: 'They don't care if I die'
'Just to let you know — they are terrorists. They hate me. They hate my uniform. They don’t care if I die'
HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY: A New Jersey police officer who branded Black Lives Matter protesters "terrorists" who didn't care if she died has been fired from her department. The move was described by her attorney as "pandering to the far left".
According to NJ.com, Hopewell Township Police Officer Sara Erwin was officially let go on Friday, April 30 following a unanimous vote of the town committee, which accepted the recommendation of a hearing officer.
Meanwhile, another officer, Sgt Mandy Grey, was demoted and slapped with a suspension of six months for simply replying to a comment on Erwin's June 2020 Facebook post, their attorney Frank Crivelli told the New York Post on Tuesday, May 4. “The fact that she supported her position as a fellow officer, that was the reason that they actually suspended her,” Crivelli said of Grey.
Erwin took to Facebook under the username Sara Elizabeth and noted how her children were crying for her not to go to work on June 8, 2020, two weeks after violent protests broke out following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt the way I did last night,” Erwin wrote. “And then I watched people I know and others I care about going into harm's way. I love police family like my own.”
The former police officer urged netizens to "think" before sharing posts on social media. “I’ve seen so many black lives matter hashtags in these posts,” the post continued. “Just to let you know — they are terrorists. They hate me. They hate my uniform. They don’t care if I die.”
At least six township employees, including five members of the police department, were placed on leave for appearing to support Erwin's words, according to a June 2020 report in The Trentonian. While now-retired Hopewell Township Police Chief Lance Maloney declined to identify the employees at the time, a source identified them as Grey, Detective Mark Panzano, Officers Erwin and John Ferner, dispatcher Gregory Peck and public works truck driver Steve Harbat, according to the newspaper.
The report noted how Erwin urged anyone who supported Black Lives Matter to "unfriend" her immediately, and that's when Panzano, Grey, Ferner, Peck and Harbat showed support for the post. According to The New York Post, Grey had been promoted to sergeant the previous year. Meanwhile, Panzano had received a letter of commendation for his actions during a house fire earlier that month.
The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office investigated Erwin's post but did not file criminal charges. Instead, the township fired her on April 30.
Erwin had joined the department in 2001, while Grey was part of the force since 1999. Crivelli said both had "absolutely spotless records" with no internal affairs complaints prior to Erwin's Facebook post. “They’re trying to make an example out of them, and in my view, they’re pandering to the far left,” Crivelli said of the township’s decision.
That said, appeals citing First Amendment concerns on behalf of Erwin and Grey are underway in superior court. Crivelli said Erwin wants her job back and Grey is seeking to have her rank restored and her six-month suspension rescinded. Meanwhile, Panzano, Ferner, Peck and Harbat received written reprimands but remained employed by the township.