A City of Guelph employee has been suspended after they posted an inappropriate message concerning Saturday’s Solidarity Protest to Support Black Lives Matter to the popular “Overheard at Guelph” Facebook page. The employee has been put on administrative leave, and an investigation is being conducted, but while the post has since been deleted, many on social media remain disturbed at the swipe at a peaceful and inclusive event.
This screen grab of the offending post was shared with Guelph Politico by one of the members of the “Overheard” page. The post is attributed to Brad Teschke, who is listed on the City’s employee directory as a Lead Hands Roads Winter Control in the Operations department.
The profanity laden post asked people on “Overheard” what they think they accomplished with the march, and then asked why the people participating in the march didn’t protest “about things that matter in this country” like veterans, the elderly, or people with mental health issues. “Give your head a shake,” he said.
A statement attributed to Deputy CAO of Public Services Colleen Clack said that Teschke was been put on administrative leave pending an investigation by the City, and that his Facebook post does not represent the City. “The employee’s comments do not reflect City of Guelph values,” the statement reads. “As an employer and community partner, the City of Guelph believes strongly in an inclusive culture of respect and collaboration. We also understand that we have a responsibility, as an employer and as a public organization, to break the cycle of systemic racism in our community, our country, and the world.”
Some early online commentary misidentified Teschke as a member of the Guelph Police Service. Several people got in touch with the Police to report the message, and the GPS issued a statement first thing this morning to clarify things.
“The Guelph Police Service would like to assure the public that this individual is not, and has not at any time been a member of the Guelph Police Service in any capacity,” the statement read. “We are aware of the comments and we are currently looking into the situation.”
Guelph Police Services Chief Gord Cobey posted a statement of support for Saturday’s march, thanking the Guelph Black Heritage Society for their leadership and inspiration for a successful event that drew upwards of 5,000 people to the downtown core to demonstrate against anti-Black racism and police violence.
“We are grateful for the engagement and dialogue we have had with the leaders of the Guelph Black Heritage Society and other community leaders,” Cobey said. “As a Service, we are committed to continuing this dialogue to more fully understand the extent and impact that racism, prejudice and bias has in our community.”