He Made Headlines for His Racist Social Media Posts. Now He’s a Police Chief.
These days, an insensitive comment from 10 years ago is enough to earn public rebuke and force a person out of a job. But in Estherwood, Louisiana, terrible judgement and abject racism can land you a promotion.
In November, Estherwood voters elected Wayne Welsh as their new chief of police. The 54-year-old cop’s election victory came just two years after he shared a racist meme on social media that captured international attention. The image showed a white woman pushing a little girl’s face under water with the caption, “WHEN YOUR DAUGHTERS FIRST CRUSH IS A LITTLE NEGRO BOY.”
Welsh swears he isn’t racist. He says he wasn’t thinking when he posted the meme.
“I don’t take it as a racial thing because we don’t have racial around here.”
Welsh’s critics don’t buy it. And they point to other posts he shared as well, like an image of Muslim women clad in burqas. “Someone left the trash bags out on the street in front of the store again!” the caption reads.
Welsh’s actions are despicable enough. But it’s the former mayor and police chief who really owe an explanation. Welsh, who was then assistant police chief, was ready to resign after the 2017 post but was ultimately let off without so much as a slap on the wrist.
“I was surprised,” he told NOLA Media Group. “I figured they’d say that would be the best thing with all the heat we were getting.”
Instead, he was suspended for two weeks. After the former chief resigned, Welsh ran for the post unopposed.
This isn’t the first time Welsh has run into trouble. He was fired from a nearby police department in 1995 for having sex on the job. But the implications of this transgression are far more serious.
“What I take from all of this is when I go through that little town, I better be doing five miles below the speed limit, and I better go through there in the day time and not darkness,” said Louisiana NAACP President Michael McClanahan. “And tell all my family the same. Don’t stop at no store, just go through there and keep going.”
Who can blame him?