Orlando censors staffers who cited ‘division’ in 4th of July newsletter – Orlando Sentinel


Orlando’s news bulletin promoting its 4th of July fireworks that angered the city’s police union, a commissioner and some residents resulted in disciplinary action against employees involved, a city spokesperson said.

The communication came from a weekly digital newsletter called “City News,” from the Orlando Office of Communications and Neighborhood Relations.

The employees concerned had no disciplinary history and received oral censorship, said Samantha Holsten, a spokeswoman, and the bulletin has a new approval process before distribution. No other details were provided.

In its July 1 edition, the newsletter invited residents to the annual fireworks show over Lake Eola, which draws tens of thousands of people to the iconic park. The message referred to the division in the country and read “when there is so much division, hatred and unrest, why the hell would you want to throw a party to celebrate it all?”

After referring to the predicted heat, humidity and crowd size, he continued, “At that point, something takes over and we all become united in an inexplicable bond. Yes, America is in conflict right now, but you know what…we already bought the fireworks.

Shortly after it was posted, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 25, a union representing police officers in the city, released a statement calling the post “inflammatory and in bad taste.” The next day, the city apologized, saying it “sincerely regrets the negative impact our words have had on some members of our community.”

The police union thanked the city for its apology.

On Wednesday, District 2 City Commissioner Tony Ortiz, a retired police officer and U.S. Navy veteran, said in a Facebook post he was not informed of the original message and did not share his views.

“Let me make it clear that the City of Orlando, District 2 office would never have approved a message that undermines the importance of American independence and its celebration in our community,” a he wrote.

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