COLUMBIA, Mo., Aug. 11 (UPI) -- A local police union is facing backlash after it proclaimed Sunday "Darren Wilson Day" in honor of the former Ferguson officer who fatally shot unarmed teen Michael Brown last year.
The Columbia Police Officers' Association declared Sunday, the one-year anniversary of the shooting that ignited weeks of civil unrest, in honor of the former police officer. The group's Facebook post included the text, "Darren Wilson Day - Aug. 9th, 2015. We will always have your 6."
Dale Roberts, the group's executive director, said the declaration was in support of Wilson. But the group promptly deleted the post when the outcry began, including a protest that had the city manager and police chief locking arms with demonstrators.
"We're a police officers union," Roberts said. "We support other police officers who have had to go through these kind of circumstances and, in this case, we support and have officer Wilson's back for what he lost in spite of being cleared and having not done anything illegal."
The group's original Facebook post read, "Our Support for Officer Wilson has nothing to do with race or anything else other than the fact that he was thoroughly investigated, twice, once by the state of Missouri and once by President Obama's Justice Department, and BOTH investigations found he did NOTHING wrong. Yet, he lost his job and his career (again ... even though he was found to have done nothing wrong.) So, yes, we stand by this innocent, but persecuted, officer."
After it was deleted, it was replaced with a statement that said it was "interpreted in a manner that was not the intended message.
"In an effort to resolve the confusion, the CPOA wants to say this plainly: CPOA supports Officer Darren Wilson and all law enforcement officers who endure similar situations," the union said.
Even with that, local law enforcement and other government entities came out against the decision to declare a Darren Wilson Day. Columbia police Chief Ken Burton said the intent was "offensive."
"I thought I needed to stand with the community and say what the police department thinks about it," Burton said at the protest. "It was insensitive at best, and provocative at worst."