SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — The removal of a frequent critic of the Springfield police as a department chaplain was an effort to suppress his criticism, according to the NAACP.
Bishop Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, was dropped as a volunteer chaplain last week after 10 years.
“His termination signals to communities of color that the police are willing to use unlawful measures to maintain power and control over the narrative around policing,” the NAACP's New England Area Conference said in a statement Monday, according to The Boston Globe.
A federal report in July found that Springfield narcotics officers often used excessive force with no repercussions.
Swan, an American prelate of the Church of God in Christ, has called for Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood's resignation.
Springfield police spokesman Ryan Walsh told Masslive.com last week that Swan was not let go because of his criticism. “Bishop Swan had not attended a meeting or taken part in the program in at least three years,” Walsh said.
Swan in a letter to Clapprood said the department is more concerned about silencing critical voices than “changing a culture where the brutalization of Black and brown citizens is commonplace,” according to Masslive.com.