Sergeant Lucas Hall with the Vermont State Police (VSP) has been suspended without pay for Facebook posts supporting Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol Building this week. His posts read, “God Bless America. Cheers to the great Patriots in Washington DC, the time has come lets go!” and “It might be war, we are beginning to see good law-abiding citizens stand against a corrupted government.”
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan is calling for him to resign or be fired saying “He’s lost my trust, he’s lost the publics trust, and he needs to resign.” He also emphasized that Sgt. Hall is not a private citizen and thus held to different standards when it comes to political speech even if that speech is uttered on his own time. Donovan said, “We can’t have a police officer who is sworn to uphold and protect the constitution advocate and condone the violent overthrow of the government.” Law experts are saying that although police officers can express personal views they cannot condone violence, but was Sgt. Hall condoning violence? If you look at his speech one could argue that he never encouraged anyone to do anything violent. He merely observed what might be a war and voicing his opinion that the war is “good law-abiding citizens stand against a corrupted government.” It seems like people are adding meaning to Hall’s comments that are not evident on their face. One could easily argue that when Hall said “let’s go” that he was referring to the act of going to Washington or something else that did not necessarily include violence. The allegations against Hall seem to reflect the current trend in the media of taking someone’s statement, comparing it to things other people did afterwards, and trying to add intentions to their words that technically cannot be proven. We are very critical of cops on this website. It is called “Cop Blaster” after all, but we are also critical of officials that exaggerate when making accusations. We think that Sgt. Hall was expressing an opinion. It is an opinion we do not share, but an opinion none the less. We have seen no evidence that Hall’s comments incited anything. We do not know of any followers that he may have if any.
Government officials are now politicizing Hall’s statements and accusing him of violation his oath to uphold the Constitution by promoting terrorism. We consider that an exaggeration. We think that it reads intent into his words based the actions of other people. We have seen not evidence to suggest that Sgt. Hall is connected to the mostly peaceful demonstrators that protested inside the Capitol Building in any way. When a police officer voices his opinion on his own time and that opinion is highly offensive to others, that does not necessarily cross the line. His comments seem to be commentary after the fact. If someone sees someone commit an act of violence and then says that in their opinion they support what they did, that is not the same as encouraging future acts of violence, but Hall did not specifically voice his support for any identifiable act of violence. He just said that “it might be war” and that in his opinion that would be law abiding citizens standing against a corrupt government. If people were responsible for the actions of others based on voicing their opinion alone then anyone whose supporters commit acts of violence in furtherance of that support would be responsible for their actions. Again, we do not agree with his views, but we think he has a right to express them and this suspension might cross the line into being a First Amendment violation.
Published at Fri, 08 Jan 2021 21:57:01 +0000