- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Virginia legislator apologized after drawing criticism for posting on Facebook a photo of a snarling police dog along with a reference to the recent civil unrest in Baltimore.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports (https://bit.ly/1H0Nec7) that the post and picture were captured Tuesday and reposted on the left-leaning blog Blue Virginia.

The picture shows a K-9 handler in SWAT gear restraining the menacing dog. A headline says, “Go ahead and run.” A caption at the bottom reads, “He likes fast food.”

Republican Del. Hyland F. “Buddy” Fowler Jr. of Hanover County added his own message: “I wonder if a few of these would help bring calm to Baltimore?”

Six officers are facing charges in the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal injury while riding in a police van after being taken into custody. Gray’s death led to days of protests and unrest in the city, which was under a curfew for several days.

Critics said Fowler’s post conjured images of police brutality against protesters during civil rights marches in the South in the 1960s.

“I don’t know whether he thinks it is a joke or funny, but what I do know is that it is insensitive, unhelpful and in total disregard for the difficult situation facing the citizens of Baltimore and, honestly, the public safety officers,” said state Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico.

Toni Radller, Fowler’s opponent in the November election, said the post reflects a lack of understanding of problems between African-Americans and police.

“And worse, I think it’s racist, whether intentional or not,” Radler said.

Hyland confirmed to the newspaper that he was responsible for the post, which he has taken down.

“It was not very thoughtful and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it,” he said in a written statement. “The situation in Baltimore is difficult and complicated and comments like that don’t help. I hope people understand I didn’t mean anything by it, that it was just a mistake.”

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, https://www.timesdispatch.com


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