A Darby Township commissioner who shared an incendiary meme about police on his personal Facebook page has been removed from his position as the elected official overseeing the municipality’s police department.
Late last week, Commissioner Marvin Smith shared what appeared to be a staged photo depicting two Black men pointing guns at a white police officer’s head, framed by the caption: “Does it Have to come to This to make them Stop Murdering and Terrorizing Us?”
The picture drew immediate and sharp rebuke from the Delaware County Council and District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. It also brought heavy criticism from local police unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police.
Joseph Fitzgerald, president of the FOP’s Delaware County lodge, called for Smith’s resignation, saying Smith is “unfit" to serve the residents of Darby Township, a community on Philadelphia’s border where about 39% of the 9,200 residents are Black and 57% are white.
“This inflammatory post puts our police officers in grave danger and targets them for unnecessary violence and vitriol,” Fitzgerald said.
Smith, who is Black, in a statement apologized for sharing the photo and promised to view these and other political issues from a “more educated perspective.”
“Anyone that knows my character, my career in public service and my relationship with the law enforcement professionals that I work with on a daily basis knows that I not only support good policing of our communities, I welcome it and will continue to be a zealous ally of our friends in blue,” said Smith, 49, a Democrat who won his first four-year term on the board last November.
In an interview Friday, Smith said he saw the image on Facebook and shared it, and isn’t sure where it originated. He said he is focused on moving past this, and is dedicated to working with people in the community.
“I love all people,” said Smith, a charter-school teacher and musician. “I’m a worker, and I don’t have time for political games.”
Township Manager Nicole Whitaker said Friday that in the past week, her office had been inundated with phone calls and emails from residents expressing their “outrage and disgust.” But she said the five-member board cannot vote to remove a commissioner from office.
Still, the commissioners at their Wednesday night meeting stripped him of his duties as the commissioner designated to work with the police department on legislative and budget issues.
It is unclear what the full scope of Smith’s duties will be going forward, according to Whitaker. He is the elected representative of the township’s First Ward, and is required to attend meetings twice a month.