Philly police officer attacks critics of Rizzo statue in foul-mouthed Facebook comments

Mayor Kenney’s administration said last week it plans to remove the statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo from outside the Municipal Services Building. Supporters of Rizzo say he was a hero who made the city safer. Critics say he was a racist who targeted communities of color.

A Philadelphia police officer angry at the planned removal of the Frank Rizzo statue at the Municipal Services Building unleashed a foul-mouthed tirade Friday on a public Facebook page, where she railed against supporters of the move, called one black woman “a ghetto ass with an education…. not,” and appeared to threaten the woman for trying to report her comments to the Police Department.

“Play with me with my job and see what happens,” Kristine Gillespie-Amato, who wears a police uniform in her profile picture, wrote to Easter Flythe. Gillespie-Amato added: “And when you find out where I work you could come visit me.”

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Gillespie-Amato left more than 40 comments on a post about the Rizzo statue’s removal.

Flythe and others say they filed complaints with the department. A police spokeswoman said “we’re looking into it” but declined further comment Monday. Gillespie-Amato, an officer in the Ninth District who has worked for the department since 1990, did not reply to a message on Facebook.

“At first I didn’t know she was an officer until I clicked on her page, and I’m just like, ‘Is this how people who swore to protect and serve the people talk?’” Flythe, 21, of Philadelphia, said. “Black this and black that. It’s crazy. I was appalled.”

Julie Odell, 53, of Philadelphia, another subject of Gillespie-Amato’s insults, called the comments “insane.”

“This is a cop who can’t control herself on social media,” Odell said. “And we’re suppose to trust her with a gun and a badge?”

Gillespie-Amato made the comments on the Facebook page “Vintage Philadelphia,” where someone posted a link to a Philly.com article about the Rizzo statue’s expected removal — which has drawn intense debate from both supporters and critics — and said, “THIS IS A DISGRACE!”

Gillespie-Amato commented more than 40 times. She told critics of Rizzo to get over it and appeared to refer to Mayor Kenney as a “ugly miser looking pu— mayor.” When people began expressing dismay, Gillespie-Amato insisted she was not racist.

“First of all I’m far from racist .. my youngest grandsons are half black,” she said. Then she took a shot at Flythe for trying to report her. “But, I’m not gonna let a snot nosed Lil racist brat talk s—… and yes I called her an ass first!!!!”

In another comment, Gillespie-Amato mocked people for protesting the statue.

The department has social media guidelines for its officers. The guidelines state that officers are held to a higher standard on social media than the general public.

“As members of the Philadelphia Police Department, employees are embodiments of its mission. It is, thus, essential that each member accept his or her role as an ambassador of the department,” the policy says. “In doing so, each member must strive to maintain public trust and confidence, not only in his or her professional capacity, but also in his or her personal and on-line activities.”

Flythe said she doesn’t think Gillespie-Amato should be fired but she should face disciplinary action.

“If this is how she acts online,” Flythe said, “I can only imagine how she acts on the job.”