The Facebook comment, since deleted, said the newspaper misled readers.
BROCKTON — A Democratic state representative decried The Enterprise as “fake news” for referring to a city employee by his official title.
Michelle DuBois, who represents Brockton, said the newspaper misled readers into believing Jorge Delgado, a parking control officer alleged to have called a disabled black man the “N-word,” was a police officer.
The Enterprise identified Delgado as a parking control officer in the story in Sunday’s paper, which is the term used by the city for the employees that enforce parking ordinances and issue citations. The newspaper also specifically identified Delgado as an employee of the Brockton Parking Authority, which is headed by executive director Robert Malley.
“The Enterprise is FAKE news,” DuBois commented on an Enterprise Facebook post sharing the story. “The parking attendants that issue parking tickets are NOT police. They don’t carry gun [sic], they work for the parking authority, this is not a police officer.”
She said the parking control officers (also referred to as PCOs) are “not officers of anything.”
DuBois appeared to have deleted the Facebook comments sometime Sunday. She did not respond to a phone call and voicemail from The Enterprise requesting comment.
The term “fake news” is a common arrow slung by President Donald Trump in speeches or on Twitter, and is often pointed at mainstream media outlets Trump believes are being willfully inaccurate.
DuBois’ use of the term, one expert said, reveals it isn’t just Trump and the Republican party combating journalists with cries of “fake news.”
“I think it shows that there actually is a bipartisan attack on the media,” said professor Brian Frederick, the political science chair at Bridgewater State University. “She’s a Democrat, and it shows that at least some members of the Democratic party aren’t beyond deploying some of the same tactics President Trump uses to go after the media.”
“Fake news” has found different definitions from different people, Frederick said. Trump, for example, will use the term for stories he dislikes. Others will more narrowly define “fake news” as intentional attempts to create false or deceptive content.
“Was something intentionally included in the story to mislead, or was it a mistake?” Frederick asked. “That’s where I would draw the line. An intentional attempt to deceive by using false content — that would constitute fake news.”
DuBois, Frederick said, doesn’t appear to “have any standing” in calling the story fake news.
DuBois’ comments were sparked by a story in the Sunday edition of The Enterprise about a federal lawsuit filed against the city of Brockton.
A 38-page complaint filed last month in U.S. District Court says that Delgado, the parking officer, said “Shut up, n—–,” to a disabled black man attempting to park in a handicap parking space in 2017.
Delgado then falsely claimed the disabled man, Sean Williamson, was brandishing a knife. Williamson was later arrested by Brockton police for assault with a dangerous weapon. Despite video evidence revealing he had no knife, he was put on trial in February.
The lawsuit also names the mayor, his former chief of staff, and members of the police department as defendants in the lawsuit for “malicious prosecution” and discrimination against Williamson.
Perhaps the most outrageous bit of this lawsuit, Williamson’s attorney Daniel W. Rice said, is that Delgado is still employed by the city.
“Brockton’s conduct in this matter, therefore, includes the condonation of racism, and a malicious prosecution made even more malicious by its destruction of exculpatory evidence,” Rice said in a statement. “That Brockton’s illegal acts were aimed at convicting Mr. Williamson of a crime, for which he would surely have been incarcerated and had his reputation ruined, is shameful and conscience-shocking. Mr. Williamson is justified in seeking substantial damages against Brockton for its illegal conduct.”
Mayor Bill Carpenter said he could not offer comment on pending litigation.
The city is represented by the Boston-based attorney Leonard H. Kesten, who had not yet responded to an Enterprise request for comment.
Dubois, in a separate Facebook post to her “fake news” comment, called the city’s response to Williamson “a failure of leadership at best, and racist at worst.”
“These types of racist incidents keep happening with disturbing frequency lately in Brockton,” said DuBois, a former city councilor. “Compounding each biased event that comes to light is the city administration’s refusal to respect the victim and each time the city’s administration instead compounds the insult to the victim by asserting that the victim of the racist treatment is the bad guy.”
DuBois said the actions of city officials do not represent “the true heart of Brockton that embraces our diversity.”
A Democrat, DuBois serves as state representative for the 10th Plymouth District (which includes parts of Brockton, West Bridgewater and East Bridgewater.
Her social media use has inspired controversy and discussion in her latest two-year term. In March 2017, she published an online statement warning undocumented immigrants in the Brockton area to stay off the streets and be careful when responding to visitors at their homes, in order to avoid a raid supposedly being conducted by by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at that time.
In March 2018, she drew attention with online calls to rename the “General Hooker Entrance” to the State House because of the double entendre it invites. DuBois said the entrance is “misrepresented as respect for a long-dead general.”
She is expected to seek her third consecutive term in the 2018 election.