BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – The Bartow Police Officer fired for calling former President Obama a “gorilla” on Facebook is speaking out for the first time.
“I just want to apologize for the comment I made. I know how offensive it was to some people. I implied it towards one person, specifically. It’s not a feeling of an entire race,” Christina Arribas said.
The Facebook post said, “Yes!!! This year we lost two gorillas. One is in heaven, and one is moving out of the White House. One will be missed. One will not be.”
“At the time I was elated that a former president was on his way out of the White House, because he was largely responsible for the war on law enforcement,” Arribas said.
Arribas said she was disciplined and went through training for the comment back in November.
“Once the complaint was addressed with me, I understood how my comment could create a further divide in the law enforcement and with the community, and that wasn’t my intention at all. It was just a joke made in poor taste,” Arribas said.
Arribas questions the timing of the local pastor who demanded her termination months after the post.
Pastor Clayton Cowart admits he is representing a black officer, who he believes was wrongly terminated and discriminated against by the Bartow Police Department.
That former officer has a hearing Thursday.
“You can’t hold much credibility to what she has to say. I think she was used to open the door and open the eyes for us to see the heart of the chief,” Cowart responded to her claim.
Cowart is demanding Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall be fired for his handling of the situation.
News Channel 8 reached out the Chief Hall, but did not get a response.
“I do regret it. I have black friends. I’ve had black trainees. My training officer was black. I’ve had a great relationship with the black community. This tears me up inside because I love the Bartow community, and I’ve loved serving it for ten years. I never intended to bring any negative attention to the police department or to my community,” Arribas said.
Arribas said she is seeking legal help to appeal her termination.Complaint
Earlier this month, protesters called for Officer Christina Arribas to be fired after a post made to her personal Facebook page where she called former President Obama a “gorilla.”
A citizen complained to the department about the post back in November.
Arribas was suspended at the time for wearing her department uniform in a photo posted on her Facebook, which is against the police department’s social media policy.
Arribas also went through training.
Fast forward to March, after the protests and news coverage about the post, State Attorney Brian Haas removed Officer Arribas as a state witness. Arribas was then placed on administrative leave with pay.
Days later, the police department confirmed that Police Chief Joe Hall terminated Arribas’ employment with the department.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON-
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