By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank’s postmaster has attracted the attention of human rights activists over what they call “vile” Facebook posts promoting racism, misogyny and apparent endorsements of violence against liberals and other groups, redbankgreen has learned.
A United States Postal Service spokesman confirmed that the agency is looking into complaints about photos and comments posted by postmaster Michael Angelo Ciano on his personal page.
“Imagine the work environment in that post office for any employees that are other than white men,” one woman wrote.
Screengrabs of posts on Ciano’s Facebook page from Sunday, above, and August 4, below. (Click to enlarge)
At least five members of the private Facebook page of a human rights group called Action Together New Jersey claim to have made complaints to the postal service about Ciano’s postings. USPS spokesman Ray Daiutolo told redbankgreen via email late Friday that “We are aware that an internal investigation is ongoing at this time and have no other information we can share at this time.”
Ciano, an Atlantic Highlands resident, did not respond to messages left for him Friday and Monday.
A member of the ATNJ group alerted redbankgreen to the discussion on that group’s Facebook page about Ciano on Thursday. She and others interviewed for this article asked not to be identified, citing potential conflicts with their jobs or fear of retaliation.
The group’s attention turned to Ciano late last Wednesday, after he posted a profanity-laced defense of “white power,” at right. The post was taken down within hours, but by then a screengrab had been shared to the ATNJ group with the comment: “This man appears to be the postmaster of Red Bank. Thoughts?”
Responders called it “disgusting,” “hate speech,” and one asked if people of color “have to fear for their lives walking into a post office.”
With Ciano at the helm of the Broad Street post office, “I would say the misogyny meter hits as high as the racism meter there,” another commenter wrote.
“Ironically, at this very moment, there is a rally for unity and love in Red Bank,” another wrote.
A man who wanted to be identified only by his first name, Travis, said Ciano’s posts “are consistently degrading towards women and racist, but the kicker was when he told everyone that wasn’t white or supporting the supremacists to ‘fuck themselves,’ condemning them as traitors.”
“That was really all I needed,” Travis told redbankgreen via email. “It was pretty intense seeing those posts and scrolling down this guys history.”
Travis said he filed an online complaint with the postal service after reading a post about the August 12 clashes between protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that he said “hit me to my core.” It read:
“Someone try to explain to me that you didn’t see this coming. Antifa and BLM rioting, assaulting Trump supporters, stomping on the flag. You didn’t think that eventually whites weren’t going to start protests of their own? Really? It was just a matter of time and now you get what you asked for. It’s just not gonna be so easy getting the worms back in the can now that the lid is off. You stupid fuckers. You were warned to stop poking the bear! You just may have woke him up.”
Ciano’s Facebook scroll contains a mix of photos of bikini-clad women with motorcycles, sports commentary and apparent satire with a right-wing slant. In July, 2015, he posted, without comment, a image of a flag featuring a multicolored swastika at the center, but surrounded by the Star of David, the Soviet hammer and sickle and other religious and political symbols. A search of the image in Google Images indicates it’s one of a series of similar graphics that are part of a series dubbed “let’s offend everyone all at once.”
Others posts are more straightforward commentary on current events, some with a menacing edge. A March 17 update showed a semi-automatic rifle, which Ciano captioned “Anti-Muslim vaccinations.”
An August 4 post, seen above at right, appears to call for a civil war. A status update posted Sunday linked to a story about a statue of a pregnant black woman erected on the pedestal of a former Civil War monument in Baltimore, on which Ciano commented: “The father of the statues child was nowhere to be found.”
Another, posted six hours later, linked to a story on iamatexan.com headlined: “Police Warn Protestors: Texas Gun Owners Can Shoot You on Sight if You Mess with Our Confederate Statues.” Ciano’s comment: “Thinking of moving to Texas.”
A week ago, Ciano reposted an article from a site called Freedom Daily that reported the driver involved in the fatal attack-by-auto on protestors in Charlottesville was “a Democrat Party member and Antifa terrorist” named Joel Vangheluwe of Michigan. “The Demo-craps strike again,” Ciano wrote.
Authorities have charged 20-year-old James Alex Field Jr. of Ohio with second-degree murder in the death of Heather Heyer, and 16-year-old Vangheluwe claims he was not in Charlottesville. The New York Daily News reported Thursday that Vangheluwe was planning to sue right-wing news sites for falsely labeling him as the killer. As of August 21, the post remained on Ciano’s page.
The postal service’s social media policy says its rules apply to employees “who use social media in their official capacity to communicate with the public or Postal Service employees.”
Ciano’s page does not appear to meet that definition, though he lists his job as “Postmaster at U.S. Postal Service” on his home and biographical pages.
The policy further warns employees that “everything you publish will reflect on the Postal Service’s brand and reputation” and instructs them to “be respectful, whether in the virtual or real world.”
Asked about the procedure involving complaints and investigations, USPS spokeman Daiutolo referred redbankgreen to the complaint page of the Office of the Inspector General, an agency independent of the postal service. The page, he said, “mentions employee misbehavior.”