The Goldsboro/Wayne branch of the NAACP is calling on city leaders to take disciplinary action against Police Chief Mike West for a Facebook photo they say is unprofessional and offensive.
The organization held a Wednesday press conference to demand action after a photo of West with President Donal's Trump's hair imposed on his likeness appeared on his Facebook page. West did not post the photo, a friend did, but West did add the comment "Making Goldsboro PD Great Again."
West has said that the posting was not intended to offend anyone and he has taken it down.
That has not eased the concerns of the NAACP. Francine Smith, second vice president of the local NAACP chapter, said the slogan offends blacks.
"When our community hears 'Make America Great Again,' what we really hear is make America white again, and that's offensive to us," Smith said Wednesday night. "It says to us that you want to take us back to where we were back in the '50s and '60s when we had no rights and we were not able to speak for ourselves.
"So when our police chief says, make Goldsboro Police Department great again, I heard make Goldsboro Police Department white again. That's what I heard, and I don't think that is the message that we want to send out to our community. That's divisiveness."
Sylvia Barnes, president of the Goldsboro/Wayne branch of the NAACP, said West's actions on his personal Facebook page were inappropriate. She said the police chief never steps down from his role, even when he is off the clock.
"I found the post to be offensive and did not exemplify appropriate leadership, in my view," Barnes said. "You don't go home as a leader. You are never off from the job. We must ask the question, how can something of this nature bring unity to our community?"
Barnes said the concerns of the NAACP will continue until action is taken.
"We are here tonight to say that we are still expecting some type of disciplinary steps, and we will not stop until this is done," Barnes said.
The NAACP is also asking city officials to adopt a social media policy for all employees that defines conduct on and off the job. They also want a community meeting involving the NAACP, city manager, mayor and the City Council.
Mayor Chuck Allen and Stevens were at the press conference, which drew between 50 and 75 people, but left after NAACP leadership comments were made. Councilman Bevan Foster and Shycole Simpson Carter, Goldsboro's community relations director, were also in attendance.
City officials have declined to take any disciplinary action against West, saying the post was not intended to be taken as being racist. West has a right to his own political views, they said.