A guard in Connecticut
system was fired after an Islamic group complained about an anti-Muslim meme he shared on social media
Garner Correctional Institution warden Amoda Hannah told Officer Anthony Marlak in a termination letter dated Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press
through a public records request that his use of social media had "undermined the public's confidence in your ability to function in your position."
“The type of speech posted endangers the safety of Muslim staff and inmates,” Hannah wrote, adding that “your actions violate the standard of conduct for correctional employees and will not be condoned or tolerated.”
In January, the Connecticut Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations demanded Marlak's dismissal, citing a meme he posted on Facebook
in 2018 depicting five apparently Muslim men hanging from nooses with the caption "Islamic Wind Chimes."
“This decision sends the exact right message that prejudice and bigotry have no place in the Department of Correction,” Farhan Memon, the chapter’s chairman, said. “Marlak’s comments were unacceptable because they suggested he could be a danger to Muslim inmates.”
Marlak's Facebook page, Tony Mint, stated, "I am the prototype, infidel, veteran, boss. Stand back and I will handle it. Now walk away."
Marlak, who was reached at his auto detailing business
on Wednesday, said he was cleared of any wrongdoing two years ago after a departmental investigation
, and that the renewed accusations have turned his life upside down.
“I’m an honorably discharged veteran of the United States military
,” he said, adding, “I’ve been threatened and had people
come and try to hurt me with weapons at my family’s place of business, and now my life has been destroyed. All I know is that I did nothing wrong, I’m going to clear my name, and this should never, ever have turned into what it has.”
Marlak admitted to reposting the wind-chime meme in 2018, when he was using a different alias, Anthony David, during an interview
with Correction Department officials following a confrontation with a Muslim correction officer this summer.
“It was ISIS — dead ISIS hangin’ from nooses, OK?” he said. “In the military, any red-blooded American, we just — we don’t like ISIS. They do bad things to our people, and I’m anti-ISIS. Not anti-Muslim.”
In December, Marlak was suspended for five days for his role in the altercation and making inappropriate remarks toward the other guard.