The police chief of a small town in northwest Iowa is claiming that a comment he made on Facebook Monday that advocated violence against Black Lives Matter protesters was mistakenly added to the wrong post while he was working. But he did not attempt to clarify the intended target of his message.
“HIT THE GAS AND HANG ON OVER THE ROAD BUMPS,” wrote Tim Porter, the police chief of Sioux Rapids, a town of about 750 people, responding to a video posted by local news station KCCI showing a man in a pickup truck driving through a crowd of protesters outside a Des Moines Hy-Vee last weekend.
A screenshot of Porter’s comment, along with one of his Facebook profile identifying him as a police chief and displaying a image of President Trump against a patriotic backdrop, was widely shared on social media. On Tuesday, KCCI reported that Porter had “issued a statement Tuesday apologizing” for his comment, publishing his rambling explanation in which he called the post “a total accident.”
“I have a huge apology to all that saw my Facebook page yesterday of myself making a comment about running over a person in the street holding a USA sign,” Porter said. “Someone called me last night and asked me about it, I was just surprised myself. I was on another post working and somehow it accidentally was posted on the wrong post. I just want to publicly apologize for my horrible mistake, my posting was a total accident. I don’t want to offend anyone. I’m all for peaceful protest, bad cops getting removed. People that know me, know I would never encourage anyone to run over any protester or anyone. I’m for change like everyone. I feel horrible for my mistake. I’m sorry for all the confusion.”
Meanwhile, Porter’s Facebook profile is no longer publicly visible, and the police department’s website — along with the rest of the town’s website, SiouxRapids.com — redirects to Google’s domain.
A voicemail left with the town’s police department Tuesday requesting comment was not returned. The Informer also attempted to reach the city clerk’s office to ask why the Sioux Rapids website was down but was unable to reach anyone and the voicemail was full.
Protesters gathered at the Hy-Vee Saturday afternoon to protest alleged racial discrimination against a former employee, among other issues. At one point, a driver of a white truck attempted to slowly drive through a group of demonstrators outside the grocery store’s front entrance. Another man who drove a black truck through the crowd was later identified as an employee of Wyckoff Heating & Cooling, a central Iowa air conditioning business, which announced Monday he was fired over the incident.
In August 2017, a 32-year-old counterprotester at an alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, named Heather Heyer was killed when a white supremacist plowed his car through the crowd in which she was demonstrating. Since the recent Black Lives Matter protests broke out after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there have been dozens of reports of vehicles ramming into protesters, an increasingly common tactic employed by right-wing extremists.
Correction: This article initially said that the fired Wyckoff employee attempted to drive a white truck through the crowd of protesters. He drove a black truck through the crowd; there was also a white truck, whose driver was unidentified.