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    Thursday, May 30, 2024

    Stonington candidate’s social media posts raise further questions of anti-police bias

    Stonington ― A Board of Finance candidate is facing further scrutiny after the discovery of three-year-old posts from the candidate’s Instagram account.

    State Rep. Greg Howard, R-Stonington, provided The Day with three screenshots he took of posts on Democratic finance board candidate Farrah Garland’s Instagram account that Howard said show an anti-police bias.

    Garland confirmed the authenticity of the screenshots.

    “The Instagram posts referenced are all from the summer of 2020, the absolute height of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Garland said in a statement Thursday. “164 black people had been killed by police in the US, that we knew of, that year by the time these posts were made. This number has increased every year since.”

    The murder of George Floyd, a Black man, sparked Black Lives Matter protests nationwide in the late spring and summer of 2020, including locally, where thousands joined marches throughout the region. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is currently serving concurrent 22.5 and 21-year state and federal sentences for the murder.

    Howard, a Stonington police detective who joined Stonington protesters in June of 2020, said he does not want to see politics in town “take an extreme turn” and does not believe Democratic voters in town will elect a candidate with such extreme views.

    “My position of speaking out against police injustice isn’t extreme, but rather deeply in line with the most basic principles of the Democratic Party,” Garland wrote.

    The Democratic National Committee website shows criminal justice reform is a significant focus for the party.

    “Our criminal justice system is failing to keep communities safe ― and failing to deliver justice,” the website reads.

    The party platform discusses both systemic and structural racism in the criminal justice system and advocates for a “top-to-bottom” overhaul, noting that cuts to social services have forced officers to handle social issues they have not been trained to deal with, including mental health, homelessness and addiction.

    An Aug. 29, 2020, screenshot shows Garland posing with her hand, palm up, beneath the graffitied acronym “ACAB,” an acronym for “all cops are bastards.”

    Garland’s text reads: “Your regular reminder that all cops are a part of a bastardized and inherently corrupt system that is murdering and committing war crimes against civilians and has been since its foundation, and if they’re choosing to remain in this environment, and not speaking up and doing better, and holding their colleagues directly accountable, then they too, have been bastardized and corrupted.”

    Howard responded, “To say we’re part of a bastardized system is totally out of touch with what law enforcement actually is and especially what law enforcement does in the town of Stonington.”

    He said the town’s officers are among the most professional in the country and rejected the idea that they are part of a broken system that commits murder.

    On June 6, 2020, Garland posted a photo of numerous protesters and a New London police cruiser with “F...12” spray-painted on the side, using an epithet. The number 12 is commonly used to refer to police.

    Howard said he believes the post shows Garland supporting the destruction of municipal property.

    “Context matters,” Garland said when reached by phone Wednesday.

    Garland expressed a passion for documenting events and issues through images and noted that the photo was one in a series of four photos in the post chronicling extensive protests in the downtown area.

    On June 7, 2020, Garland shared a photo of two 14-year-old Black ballerinas posing in front of a graffiti-covered confederate monument in Richmond, Va., after Gov. Ralph Northam ordered it removed. The graffiti includes many common anti-police phrases as well as the phrase “black lives matter” and “ACAB.”

    “What Farrah is doing is lumping all police officers together. In fact, in ACAB, the first letter is ‘all.’ That would include the 40 men and women in the Stonington Police Department ― the town that Farrah is running in,” Howard said.

    “Police officers, including in Stonington, have had no problem standing up and saying Derek Chauvin was wrong,” Howard said. “He should have been arrested.”

    “My stance isn’t anti-police, but rather a position of caring for my community,” Garland’s statement concluded. “I’ve always been direct about my goals of working towards equity and equality, and ensuring we are providing for everyone ― especially the most vulnerable. In 2020, I did what I could to care for a vulnerable population. I shouted that Black Lives Matter and that we won’t be silent until we see real change.”

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