LaPorte police chief sparks controversy with Facebook post

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LaPORTE, Ind. (WNDU) - A Facebook post by LaPorte Police Chief Tom Owens is causing controversy in the community, with some even calling the post racist.

16 News Now spoke with a community activist known for keeping an eye on police action in LaPorte.

"I absolutely think the chief of police is a white nationalist," activist Christopher Throgmorton said.

The chief would not talk on camera, but off camera he said he doesn't have a racist bone in his body.

The post is believed to refer to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota. It depicts her with an alleged al-Qaida member.

Owens says he posted the photo to Facebook to draw attention to the fact that it was clearly fake and not to be racist.

Some don't buy it.

"His explanation was that he shared it with a caption that was deleted by Facebook, which a lot of people don't believe, but it was basically, ‘I shared this one to condemn it,’” Throgmorton said.

He added that this isn't the first time Owens has shared content like this on Facebook.

Throgmorton helped draw attention to this particular post.

"If this was Joe Schmo on the corner rambling about his views, it would be different," Throgmorton said. "Because it’s the chief of police for our local police department, he's responsible for being sort of objective."

Throgmorton is calling for the chief to step aside.

"He has to resign. That's the reality of the situation. You don't get to be a racist online," Throgmorton said. "This dude is held to a higher account of behavior than the rest of us because of his position, being a public servant."

Owens mentioned he was looking into sending a statement to 16 News Now but said it had to go through the city attorney. We have yet to receive that response.

Owens questioned the credibility of Throgmorton, which 16 New Now looked into. When asked about his criminal history and whether or not he had it out for police, Throgmorton responded by saying that despite current pending charges in LaPorte, he has changed for the better.

“My criminal history only reinforces where my beliefs came from," he said. "I was raised by the justice system, this is what I know. That’s why I hold them to account for their own rules.”