Mass. FF under investigation after allegedly posting antisemitic Holocaust image on IG
The Worcester firefighter posted an edited photo of President Joe Biden that makes him look like Adolf Hitler
WORCESTER, Mass. — A Worcester firefighter posted antisemitic imagery on a now-deleted Instagram account, using an edited photo of President Joe Biden that makes him look like Adolf Hitler, as he stands behind a podium with a swastika.
Biden, in the post from Worcester firefighter Chris Winterborne, has a mustache to resemble Hitler, as well as a Nazi armband, according to a screenshot shared with MassLive on Thursday. Winterborne, under the username “coldbone_9,” captioned the image: “This is what you [expletive] idiots voted for!”
Robert Trestan, the Anti-Defamation League’s New England regional director, condemned Winterborne’s conduct in a letter this week to Worcester Fire Department Acting Chief Martin Dyer. Trestan said the ADL is also aware of allegations that Winterborne previously published racist remarks about the Black Lives Matter protests — though the ADL has not seen evidence yet.
“We have heard from members of the local community who are shocked and concerned regarding these postings and find this conduct to be abhorrent and unbecoming of an official sworn to serve the public safety needs of Worcester’s residents,” Trestan wrote in his letter to Dyer. “Some have expressed that their trust in the Worcester Fire Department has been undermined and that they are uncertain if they can rely on the protection of local public safety personnel.
Trestan, who learned about the Biden Instagram post over the weekend, told MassLive Thursday that Dyer has yet to respond. But City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. said Worcester is now investigating the allegations into the post, without specifically naming Winterborne.
“The city of Worcester denounces racism and intolerance in all forms,” Augustus said in a statement to MassLive Thursday afternoon. “We vehemently reject the hateful message conveyed in the post made on social media. This post in no way reflects the position of the city of Worcester or its fire department. It is contrary to the values and mission of both the city of Worcester and the Worcester Fire Department.
Augustus said Worcester will “take appropriate action” pending the results of the investigation. Winterborne’s current employment status is unclear.
Trestan told MassLive he is deeply troubled about a scenario in which a Worcester first responder needs to go to a synagogue or Jewish school while harboring antisemitic views. People need to have trust and confidence in all public officials, Trestan emphasized to MassLive in an interview.
In his letter, Trestan wrote that comparisons to Nazis and the Holocaust are unacceptable.
“Weaponizing the Holocaust to suggest that the policies of our democratic government or our elected leaders are comparable to the murderous acts of Nazi Germany is unconscionable,” Trestan wrote. “Such images also exploit symbols of the Holocaust and distorts its history, which is especially dangerous at a time when Holocaust denial is prevalent. Denigrating the Holocaust isa painful antisemitic trope, and we rely on our leaders to speak out against it.”