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Unity Project pushes for decertification of officer / September 14, 2020

The Halifax & South Boston Unity Project is asking South Boston Town Council and the South Boston Police Department to take action to prevent a former SBPD corporal from working again in public law enforcement.

The Unity Project, a biracial group of local citizens that advocates for racial justice, is expected to be represented by one of its co-founders, Everett Thomas, at the monthly meeting of South Boston Town Council tonight.

In a letter sent Thursday to Town Manager Tom Raab and Police Chief Jim Binner, the group asks that Jerome George, who retired from the town force after posting inflammatory messages on Facebook, be decertified to work in Virginia law enforcement.

“According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. George has been a law enforcement officer in at least five different agencies throughout the Commonwealth,” the group wrote in its letter. “We don’t know if he has had similar incidents or complaints in the past at his prior places of employment. We don’t know if he came to South Boston with clean hands or a tarnished record.

“What we do know is he should no longer wear any badge of authority given his beliefs about minorities and protestors being ‘parasites’ ‘the lowest life forms on earth’ and deserving of murder based on his recent admitted Facebook posts,” the letter to town officials read.

“If Mr. George is allowed to seek employment as law enforcement in another town or county and hurts or kills someone while on duty, then the Town of South Boston would bear moral, if not actual responsibility,” the letter said.

Unity Project members are requesting that the Town Office and police department “send an immediate request to decertify Jerome George as law enforcement to the [Virginia] Department of Criminal Justice Services. Anything less than decertification would allow Mr. George to be hired in another jurisdiction where he could potentially take a life. This possibility is unacceptable.”

Before retiring after nearly a 26-year career in law enforcement, George told the News & Record that he was finished working in law enforcement, saying, “I can tell you right now, I no longer want to be a police officer. I honestly don’t know how anybody these days wants to be a police officer.” George, a Navy veteran, said he posted the offending messages on Facebook out of frustration at seeing scenes of rioting and looting on TV.

In the posts, George, writing under the false name of “John Conner,” applauded violent police tactics against persons demonstrating for racial justice and called Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old double homicide suspect, a “hero” for fatally shooting two protestors in Kenosha, Wis. after violence erupted there in the wake of a police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black.

Attempts this week to reach Raab and SBPD representatives for comment on the Unity Project letter were unsuccessful.

Along with asking South Boston to push for George’s decertification, the Unity Project also asks the police department to “pledge to report Mr. George’s atrocious Facebook posts as the reason for his resignation to any agency that contacts the department for an employment recommendation.”

In his interview with the News & Record, George emphasized that he was retiring on his own volition and was not resigning. He was placed in paid administrative leave before retiring. George said he is also planning to move away from South Boston.

South Boston Town Council will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the Washington Coleman Community Center. Other than citizens comments, items on the agenda include:

» recommended adoption of an amendment to the town budget, related to federal CARES funding to the town;

» an update to the town code to allow “games of skill” devices at local establishments that are regulated by Virginia ABC.

» a resolution to adopt the town’s Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan 2020.

» an appointment to fill a vacancy on the South Boston Industrial Development Authority.

The Washington Coleman Community Center is located at 1927 Jeffress Boulevard, South Boston.

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