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Department Of Correction Officer Terminated After Anti-Muslim Social Media Post

The sign for the Cheshire Correctional Institution on April 06, 2020 in Cheshire, Connecticut.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public Radio
The sign for the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut.

A Department of Correction officer was terminated Tuesday for violating employee conduct and social media policies. DOC officials said Officer Anthony Marlak’s speech threatens the safety of staff and inmates who are Muslim. In the termination letter, DOC Warden Amonda Hannah wrote, “Your personal use of social media has undermined the public’s confidence in your ability to function in your position.” 

A DOC investigation at the Cheshire Correctional Institution found that Marlak reposted a meme on Facebook with five apparently Muslim men hanging from nooses. A caption read “Islamic wind chimes.” Marlak added commentary, saying, “I think I found the best meme on the planet!!”  

Farhan Memon, chair of Connecticut’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that kind of anti-Muslim sentiment undermines public confidence, “because [Marlak] is of course dealing with Muslim prisoners and other officers. They all have an expectation that they will be dealt with fairly. Having an officer who is bigoted erodes that trust.”

Documents obtained by Connecticut Public show that DOC knew about the post in June of 2019 and did not investigate it at the time. After an incident with a Muslim co-worker, Marlak was briefly suspended and transferred to another facility. Marlak says he did nothing wrong and plans to clear his name. 

Separate incidents of Islamophobic harassment came to light at the Cheshire facility earlier this month. Another officer, also Muslim, found a fake incident report, targeting him with Islamophobic, antisemitic and homophobic language. 

DOC handed over the investigation of this incident to the Connecticut State Police. Spokesperson Brian Foley said, “Reading some of the absolute disgusting, and I don’t know any other way to put it, language in one of the reports, it’s obviously of great concern to the colonel -- Colonel [Stavros] Mellekas of the Connecticut State Police.” 

There is no evidence that Marlak is involved in this latest incident.

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