Finizio outraged by Facebook link to Hitler

New London - Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio took to Facebook Sunday to criticize the Whale Tales Facebook page for allowing one of its writers to post a photo that depicts him as Adolf Hitler.

City resident Kathleen Mitchell, who administers the page, said she became aware of the photo Sunday morning after she received a message about inappropriate content from
Facebook. She said the photo was up for a maximum of 30 minutes before she removed it.

Mitchell said she did not feel the photo was inappropriate as both men are considered "fiery orators."

"I understand the intent of it. It compared Daryl's oratory skills and skill at manipulating an audience (to Hitler's)," she said about the posting. "He's a dynamic speaker."

Mitchell, who pointed out that she has Jewish relatives, said the photo had nothing to do with Hitler's other traits or actions.

As for the person who posted it, she said that the only people who can post are a limited number of city employees and board members who are anonymous writers for Whale Tales. She said she does not know who posted it but could likely determine that after making some phone calls. She said she has no intention of naming the person who did so but said it was not she.

At 2:20 p.m. Sunday, Whale Tales posted this message: "Whale Tale is not intended to be socially offensive, but sometimes it happens anyway. And we do enjoy roasting the Mayor because he deserves it, but not at the expense of our followers. We also take very seriously the very wrong interpretation by some of our FB friends and take exception to their erroneous postings and comments. The picture that was posted earlier today, because of their very wrong interpretations, has been removed. Should you still be offended in any way, please unfriend Whale Tale."

Finizio said Sunday that while he does not typically pay attention to anonymous comments about him on "sites such as Whale Tales and The Day," a friend who follows the page alerted him to the posting on Sunday.

He said some of his supporters monitor sites such as Whale Tales because false information published there is then used as campaign material.

He said it is appropriate to address postings that "cross the line."

In the statement on his Facebook page, Finizio said "today something came to my attention that should shock the conscience of every New Londoner."

The caption to the photo refers to him as "Adolph Fibnizio."

"This kind of venomous political discourse poisons our community. Comparisons to Nazi-ism are clearly outside the boundaries of acceptable behavior," he wrote.

He called on Mitchell and others involved with the Facebook page to do more than remove the image - to disband the Facebook group.

He also called on politicians who have received support from the page to denounce the posting. If they do not, he said, the are "condoning this type of behavior."

"That these individuals would (choose) MLK weekend to engage in hate speech is clearly unacceptable," he wrote, referring to the Monday holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "My vision for New London is for a City that values all our residents as equals and where political disagreements, passionate though they may be, can be handled with professionalism and respect."

In conclusion, he wrote, "Shame on these people! You do not represent New London, and at long last, even for the reptilian likes of you, you have gone too far."

j.wojtas@theday.com

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