HOUSTON (AP) — A longtime top Houston area prosecutor resigned Monday after posting a meme on Facebook that appeared to equate Nazis with people who have been participating in protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Kaylynn Williford, who was head of the trial bureau at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, last week posted the meme that shows a black and white picture of a wooden box full of weddings bands that were removed from Holocaust victims.
A caption above the photo reads in part, “Each ring represents a destroyed family. Never forget, Nazis tore down statues. Banned free speech. Blamed economic hardships on one group of people. Instituted gun control. Sound familiar?”
Protesters demonstrating against racism, police violence, racial inequality and the May death of Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, have targeted Confederate monuments and other statues in cities around the world.
Various area attorneys had questioned whether the post was derogatory of the Black Lives Matter movement and if it might be racist.
“It’s in very poor taste given the context of what’s happening socially around the country,” said Mauro Beltramini, a Houston criminal defense attorney. “Something like this could cast doubt on things that the district attorney’s office is doing.”
Williford said in a statement she never intended to offend the Black Lives Matter movement. Williford said what she had “interpreted as a post that promoted tolerance was taken in a completely different manner.”
“I have spent my career defending the rights not only of victims but those wrongfully accused,” she said. “If you truly knew me, you would know I never meant anything malicious in sharing a Facebook post … I can only say I am sorry for hurt this had made in the African American or Jewish communities.”
The district attorney’s office was reviewing concerns over the Facebook post when Williford resigned. The resignation was first made public by a reporter with the Marshall Project.
In an email sent to employees Monday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said her office “stands for equal justice” and it “has zero tolerance for racism in any shape or form. While implicit in our work, let us be together in the fight for tolerance and equality of all in everything we do, both in the workplace and in all aspects of our lives.”
Williford had been with the district attorney’s office since 1992 and had tried more than 100 jury trials. She was of the prosecutors who in October helped secure a death sentence for a man convicted of fatally shooting six members of his ex-wife’s family, including four children.