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Missouri police chief placed on leave for Facebook posts, then reinstated

AUXVASSE, Mo. (AP) — A rural Missouri police chief who was placed on administrative leave for inflammatory Facebook posts was reinstated within 24 hours.

Keven Suedmeyer, the police chief in Auxvasse, about 35 miles northeast of Jefferson City, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, Mayor Tom Henage said Friday.

“Racism is not condoned or tolerated by the City of Auxvasse,” Henage said in a news release. When asked afterward by the Jefferson City News-Tribune if that meant he considered the posts, which were on Suedmeyer’s personal Facebook page, to be racist, Henage said he didn’t. Alderman in Auxvasse voted Thursday to place Chief Kevin Suedmeyer on leave pending an investigation into the posts. Aldermen met on Friday and voted to reinstate Suedmeyer after he received a verbal warning.

The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported details of the investigation, including who conducted it, were not released as of Monday. The alderman voted to close executive records about Friday’s meeting.

One of Suedmeyer’s posts read “Corona virus coming to rioters everywhere Darwin — work your magic Time to ramp up the funeral industry.” Another post said he would run over anyone who stood in the street to stop traffic to “cleanup the gene pool.”

Aleigha Turner, an Auxvasse resident who helped organize a recent Black Lives Matter protest in nearby Fulton, expressed surprise and disappointment.

“It’s not something I expect out of a police chief, someone we’re supposed to look toward for safety and protection, especially in these times,” she said. “I was very shocked, but also I understand that there’s definitely a bigger racist population than we like to think.”

Sara Baker, ACLU of Missouri’s policy director, said a police chief sets the tone for the entire department and must protect all citizens’ right to assemble.

“The posts of the Auxvasse police chief are a fitting example of why so many Americans have taken to the streets in support of demanding law enforcement confront its history of discriminatory practices against the black and brown citizens they are sworn to protect,” Baker said.

Suedmeyer’s Facebook page had disappeared by Thursday afternoon.

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