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Mayor places Pawtucket employee on leave over ‘ignorant and racist’ Facebook post

PAWTUCKET, RI – Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien placed a city employee on administrative leave Monday over a Facebook post he called “ignorant and racist.”

The Facebook post has now been deleted. But screenshots show Joseph Morais, a senior project manager for the city’s engineering department, commenting on a historic 1956 photo of Woonsocket, saying, “Great city with low crime because it was white.” Truth.”

“It is truly disappointing to see such an inappropriate comment from anyone, especially a city employee,” Grebien said in a statement. “Ignorant and racist comments have no place in the city of Pawtucket or anywhere else for that matter. Mr. Morais is on administrative leave as of today. The municipality is working to address this staffing issue.”

Morais, who has worked for the city since 2018, will be paid while on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation, city communications director Grace Voll said.

Morais could not immediately be reached for comment.

Harrison Tuttle, chairman of the Black Lives Matter RI PAC, released a statement saying: “Mr. Morais must resign. Pawtucket, and Black and Brown residents in particular, deserve better. We deserve responsibility.”

He called on the city to investigate and all city leaders to “reject the sentiments expressed in these statements.”

“This is a moment for us to stand in solidarity and strengthen our community against those who want to tear us apart,” Tuttle said. “BLM RI PAC, together with our neighbors in Pawtucket, will continue to speak truth to power until justice is served.”

He said it appears the city has a process in place to address such situations, and he hopes the process ends with the employee being fired.

“We know that Pawtucket is home to an incredibly diverse group of residents and comments like that from City Hall in Pawtucket in particular are a poor reflection of where the city is going and where it can be,” Tuttle said. “And where that is possible is a city where city employees do not make racist comments via Facebook.”

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at [email protected]. follow him @FitzProv.