Michael Henkel, a 61-year old man who worked as a Family Court supervisor in Philadelphia, has been fired from his job after being caught on camera causing a disturbance during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. He was seen destroying posters and even cursing and shouting that he doesn’t care about Black lives.
Last Friday, posters with Black Lives Matter messages were put up on a fence in the park as part of a child-friendly protest march organized by community leaders.
Henkel, who had worked for Philadelphia’s First Judicial District, reportedly went and took down the signs. A 34-second video clip showed Henkel doing so while a woman was heard telling him that the signs are not his property. “I know. It’s the city. I pay for this… Yeah, my taxes pay for this place, yep,” Henkel responded. “So I can do whatever I want… I’m always around here, too.” The woman responded saying, “Great. I live right here. Black Lives Matter!” to which Henkel replied, “Not to me, they don’t.” The woman posted the video on Facebook on Sunday, immediately sparking outrage against Henkel. It was blocked from public view the next day but was posted by another person on Instagram.
Moreover, local activist Leslie Chapman expressed disappointment on Henkel, saying, “For that adult to take that away from children, it’s just really awful. The kids probably had a lot of fun making those signs,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Henkel “is no longer an employee,” said Family Court spokesperson Marty O’Rourke since he made multiple violations of the state court system’s Code of Conduct. “The Court takes the incident very seriously and believes Mr. Henkel’s behavior as shown in the video is egregious and totally unacceptable for an employee of the Courts,” he said.