A New Jersey police officer was fired after calling Black Lives Matter protesters “terrorists” in a Facebook post in June last year. Hopewell Township police officer Sara Erwin lost her job after the town council voted unanimously to terminate her.

Sgt. Mandy Gray, another police officer who liked Erwin’s post was demoted and served a six-month suspension notice. Erwin had written the Facebook post at the time when protests were sweeping across the nation after the death of George Floyd.

In her post, she wrote: “Last night as I left for work I had my two kids crying for me not to go to work. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the way I did last night. And then I watched people I know and others I care about going into harms way. I love my police family like my own." 

Erwin then went on with her post encouraging awareness in thinking before posting anything on Facebook about Black Lives Matter branding them as terrorists. "They hate my uniform. They dont care if I die." her post read.

So when you share posts and things on Facebook I’d really appreciate if you’d THINK before doing so. I’ve seen so many black lives matter [sic] hashtags in these posts. Just to let you know – they are terrorists. They hate me. They hate my uniform. They don’t care if I die.”

Appearing in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Erwin explained what had prompted her to write the said post. She was noted saying she wrote the post during a lot of "turmoil" when emotions were high. "I had friends, family, tons of people reaching out, text messages, phone calls, reaching out through messenger, checking on me and making sure everything was OK cause they were seeing so many things in the news." 

"I felt it was easiest to put what I was feeling and get a message out there that I was home [and] I was safe," she explained. Erwin added that she "was worried about other officers"she knew in other cities. "I’m hearing things, I’m getting alerts on my phone and news sources, and it was just a really difficult couple of days," she continued.

Gray, who sat with Erwin and their lawyer Frank Crivelli during the interview explained that she had shown support for Erwin by liking her post after a "very emotional conversation" at work. "I had to send one of my officers into a neighboring city that was having riots. It was just a very emotional night," Gray said.

“I knew where she was coming from because of the conversation we had had earlier in the evening when she made that post and I hearted it in support in showing my love."

Erwin and other police officers who reacted to her post were placed on leave last year while the matter was being investigated. The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office investigated and found no criminal behavior and the case was sent back to the township for department handling.

During the interview, Crivelli said the discipline result is dumbfounding as neither of the officers have any prior internal affairs complaints. He added that the officers have “exemplary” records with “absolutely no disciplinary history,” and called the firing “disgraceful”.

Both Erwin and Gray have 20 years of experience. Erwin is "popular" in the Hopewell Valley community, having served as a DARE officer in the school system. Gray was the first female officer hired in Hopewell Township and was promoted to sergeant in 2019 but will now lose her rank in the demotion, NJ.com reported.

Appeals are already underway in Superior Court for both, Crivelli said. It will argue a number of things, including First Amendment issues. Councilwoman Julie Blake, who serves as mayor, declined to discuss the matter, citing confidentiality.

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