Police chief forced to retire after calling Black Lives Matter a terrorist group

Surf City, N.C. officials approved the retirement of Police Chief Mike Halstead Tuesday. Halstead called Black Lives Matter "nothing more than an American born terrorist group."

(Max Ortiz/The Detroit News via AP)
Ron Scott, center, of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, voices his concerns during a rally Aug. 28 outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit regarding the shooting death of Terrance Kellom by an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer in April 2015. As the Black Lives Matter movement gains more public attention, there are questions being raised about who’s in charge of the movement and what its long-term goals are.

A North Carolina town has approved the retirement of the police chief after he referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as a terrorist group in a Facebook post.

Local news outlets report that the town council in Surf City approved the retirement of Police Chief Mike Halstead during an emergency meeting Tuesday.

Halstead is white and had planned to retire this year. The town approved the retirement following a Sept. 3 Facebook post by Halstead. He had been police chief since 1999. 

In the 662-word post, he called Black Lives Matter "nothing more than an American born terrorist group" and said the government needs to step up and put a stop to it. He said the movement glorifies criminals and vilifies members of law enforcement.

Halstead said neither the government nor blacks would tolerate a white supremacist group marching through the streets calling for the murders of public servants.

Halstead removed the post, which was on his personal account, this week.

On his Facebook wall, Halstead posted this message early Wednesday:

I want to thank you all for your support. I was forced to retire or be terminated. I had to beg for a 60 day severance to feed my family.That was the thanks I got from those I thought were family, I was thrown under the bus for expressing my 1st amendment rights and speaking the truth and concerns for law enforcement . I want to thank all of the folks in Surf City for your support. It was my pleasure to serve you. Thank you to my officers for your dedication, I will miss everyone of you. I would like to apologize to my family for letting you down. I also apologize to those I have offended, that was not my intent. I have served proudly for 35 years without a blemish. I guess to some Surf City Leaders that has no meaning. I guess I will learn to eat beanie wienies for a few months. I love you all.

Halsteads comments come at a time when police forces in the US are under scrutiny, and some say under attack. 

"We've heard black lives matter; all lives matter. Well cops' lives matter too," Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said at a news conference following Shannon J. Miles arrest in the fatal shooting last month of Texas Deputy Darren Goforth.

Harris County Sheriff's statement has resonated with supporters of law enforcement, which has over the last year been the focus of calls for sweeping reform in the face of high-profile, violent confrontations between officers and unarmed black men and women – and the equally high-profile police deaths that followed. It has also, in a way, promoted mutual respect and understanding between police and the black community .

Thousands of people gathered in Houston Saturday in a "Police Lives Matter" march

But there's as many views on the current tensions as there are police, The Christian Science Monitor reports

And as far as a “war on cops” – a phrase used recently by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke – Atlanta beat cop Barricia McCormick, at least, doesn’t see it.

“I don’t think it’s us versus them,” says McCormick, who served as an officer in Texas before joining the APD in 2011. “Yeah, the media might have some people looking more closely at police and wondering. But the fact is, I get thanked more now than I did before, and I have people coming up to me just randomly telling me to be safe out there, stuff like that. And I know it’s related to what’s going on nationally, because when they approach me they usually mention something they heard on the news.”

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