Louisiana Cop Wayne Welsh, Suspended In 2017 For Posting Racist Facebook Meme, Is Now His Town’s Police Chief

Police tape outside a crime scene.
Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Wayne Welsh was suspended from the police force in Estherwood, Louisiana, in 2017 after sharing a racist Facebook meme depicting a mother drowning her daughter for having a crush on a “n**** boy.”

Now, just two years later, Welsh is not only back on the force but has been named police chief in the small community in the southwestern part of the state. As CNN reported, Welsh was sworn in as the chief after running unopposed for the role. He had already been appointed police chief when the role became vacant last year.

As the report noted, many in Welsh’s overwhelmingly white community defended him and did not agree with the controversy that the Facebook meme sparked. Welsh himself defended himself after being sworn in as police chief, saying that he had already been punished for sharing the meme.

“What happen(ed) two years ago is behind me and my punishment was done to me and now I’m moving forward with my life and as the new chief of police,” he said.

Local officials are also standing behind Wayne Welsh, citing his performance as a police officer and during his short time as police chief. Donald Popp, the mayor of Estherwood, said he doesn’t believe sharing the racist image on Facebook would affect the way Welsh is going to do his job as chief of police. Black people make up less than 5 percent of the town’s residents.

“As the new mayor I don’t see any problems or foresee any future problems with him. I was hoping this would have been taken care of,” Popp said.

Welsh’s original sharing of the Facebook meme in 2017 garnered plenty of national attention, coming at a time when police forces were under scrutiny for interactions with black communities and coming after a spate of killings of unarmed black men. There had been allegations that some police departments were infiltrated with white supremacists, a trend the FBI had warned of more than a decade ago, PBS News noted.

Many at the time called on Welsh to be fired, but instead, he was suspended before being allowed to return to the force. His recent ascension to chief of police has generated quite a bit of controversy as well.

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Wayne Welsh had gotten in trouble for sharing other questionable images on Facebook, including one of Muslim women wearing burqas in front of a building with the caption, “Someone left the trash bags out on the street in front of the store again.”