A Springfield, Illinois police officer has resigned after he was revealed to be responsible for a rash of bigoted social media posts. Former officer Aaron Paul Nichols resigned from the Springfield Police Department shortly after it was announced his department would be investigating the posts.
Springfield Police Chief Ken Scarlette said on Wednesday Nichols did not dispute the accusations against him for the "despicable" posts before resigning from the department where he had served for 18 years.
You can view local WCIA CBS 3 news coverage below:
Scarlette said on Tuesday:
"I think the posts that I read are not the individual that I thought I knew."
"It’s clear the posts are just despicable, deplorable."
"I mean, they make my stomach hurt just thinking about them."
The Springfield police chief also said he started the process to decertify Nichols as a law enforcement officer.
This would prevent him from becoming a law enforcement officer again anywhere in Illinois.
"In my opinion, he should not be a certified police officer in the state of Illinois as a result of this egregious actions that were uncovered."
Anti-fascist researchers at Anonymous Comrades Collective released information about the posts and who made them online.
A statement from Chief Scarlette was shared on Facebook:
The posts allegedly made by Nichols included violent antisemitism, racism, racial slurs and various forms of bigotry, including the phrase "Hitler did nothing wrong" and threats agains Jewish and Black people.
Springfield Black Lives Matter co-president Sunshine Clemmons said a full investigation into Nichols, as well as the whole department, was necessary.
Clemmons told WCIA CBS 3:
"We offered praise for moving as quickly as [Scarlette] did."
"So I think that’s, you know, genuine recognition that should be that should be pointed out, but there are also some hard questions that need to be answered."
"One of which is what are you doing to ensure that you don’t have any officers that are still on your force that feel that way?"
Many on Twitter also called for a full investigation into Nichols' behavior over his last 18 years as a police officer, as well as an examination of police forces across the United States to eliminate White supremacy and White nationalism from their ranks.
Others were concerned about Nichols receiving full benefits and pension or going to work in another department.
Illinois State Democratic Senator Doris Turner—who represents Springfield—said:
“The things that were said were horrific."
"We hope that no one who holds a position of public trust holds those views."
“But, unfortunately, we know that those things happen.”
A 2006 FBI report raised serious concerns about the rise of White supremacist and White nationalist extremism in law enforcement.
The full, unredacted report was not released until 2020—after the murder of George Floyd by then Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.