Bartow Police officer on paid leave after calling Obama a “gorilla”

A group of protesters lined the sidewalk outside of the Bartow Police Department to demand the firing of Bartow Police Officer Christina Arribas.

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – One day after State Attorney Brian Haas removed a Bartow Police Officer as a state witness, the officer has been placed on paid leave.

The Bartow Police Department released the following statement:

“In response to the letter received from the State Attorney’s Office regarding Officer Christina Arribas, Chief Joe Hall has placed Officer Arribas on Administrative Leave, with pay, and a notice of pre-disciplinary action is forthcoming.  Given the Chief’s role in the disciplinary process, it would be inappropriate for him to comment further at this time.  Future requests for records not yet generated regarding this matter may be made to the Police Department’s records custodian.”

Officer Arribas has been a police officer with the department since 2006 and is currently paid $44,690 per year.

On Thursday, a group of protesters lined the sidewalk outside of the Bartow Police Department to demand her firing.

Arriba’s Facebook post.

Back in November, a citizen complained to the Bartow Police Department about a post originating from Arribas’ personal Faceook page, in which she goes by the name Chrissy GillRakers.

The post read “Yes!!! This year we lost two gorillas. One is in heaven, and one is moving out of the White House. One will be missed. One will not be.”

“It made me question this kind of person on the streets. How are they dealing with blacks?” Pastor Clayton Cowart said.

He organized a protest with dozens of people outside of the Bartow Police Department, calling for Arribas to be fired.

“It’s disappointing for a police officer. It’s disappointing for a chief who will not hold her accountable for her statements,” Cowart said.

Read: State attorney letter to Arribas

One by one, protesters delivered piles of bananas at the front desk for Chief Joe Hall and Officer Arribas.

“Every time they eat a banana I want them to remember the statement that was made. You know, gorillas and monkeys they’ve been known to have an appetite for bananas,” Cowart said.

Back in December, Arribas was suspended for two days, not for the post, rather for being pictured on her Facebook in her Bartow Police uniform, which is against the department’s social media policy.

All of News Channel 8’s requests were turned to the city attorney Sean Parker, who declined to comment, other than to say the matter is closed.

He also said the basis of the discipline was her violation of the social media policy, wearing her uniform in a photo on social media, not the comment.

After protests and news coverage Thursday, State Attorney Brian Haas was made aware of the post and sent a letter to Arribas, removing her ability to testify in state cases.

Arribas has been with the department for ten years. She is currently a patrol and training officer.



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