Nueces County, TX – A Texas district attorney who wrote “ftp” in a social media post has claimed that critics have taken the message “out of context,” and that he never intended to come off as being anti-police.
Many people, including retired Corpus Christi Police Officer John Little, said that the “ftp” hashtag is a well-known acronym for “f--k the police,” the Caller Times reported.
Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez was elected to office in 2016, and drew attention for his statements about being in the Calaveras motorcycle club, Politico reported.
"If you're saying Calaveras is a gang then I'm proud to be a part of them," Gonzalez said at the time in response to criticism, according to Caller Times.
“I try to find a bit of balance,” Gonzalez told Politico in 2018. “How do I carry this office with responsibility and honor and distinguish it, but not lose who I am being this tattooed, Hispanic, Calaveras, criminal-defense guy who grew up in a small town?”
In a Jan. 4 letter to local law enforcement agencies, Gonzalez announced that his office “would no longer accept cases for 27 misdemeanors when the same suspect is facing a felony charge,” KZTV reported.
The policy change giving criminals "freebies" was met by swift backlash from law enforcement officers.
Officer Little took to Facebook to express his outrage, and shared a video that showed Gonzalez explaining his decision to stop prosecuting such crimes, the Caller Times reported.
"In his video, he explains how he is trying to be efficient, you will hear him say words like 'doing the right thing,' 'change,' 'efficiency' and 'barbaric,’” Officer Little wrote. “Not once did he try to address the true problem, of being short staffed, which they have been for years, because the pay is too low."
"Anyhow, dismissing misdemeanors is the easy way out to a complicated problem and honestly won’t fix the problem of being short staffed, at all,” the 21-year law enforcement veteran added. “[It is a] chicken s--t move to protect the Criminals of Nueces County by dismissing misdemeanors.”
Gonzalez was quick to reply to Officer Little’s post.
"Mr. Little it seems chicken s--t to me, that not once have you come by my office to voice your concerns,” the district attorney argued. “You’ve never asked to volunteer or help out. I’m here, not for the pay, nor to help criminals! It’s called public service RICHARD!"
"Trust me the sheer idiocy of all the comments by keyboard warriors such as yourself are entertaining,” Gonzalez added. “People like you keep me going. I hope you have a blessed day. Thanks for the motivation!”
The district attorney then re-shared the video of him explaining the policy, accompanied by a message for his “haters.”
"Haters be my motivators!!! #gonzalez2020 #ftp,” the video caption read.
“In my line of work, FTP stands for ‘F the Police’, and I think that’s the first response,” Corpus Christi Police Officers Association (CCPOA) President Scott Leeton told KRIS.
Officer Little said he took the message the same way.
“For those who don’t know, it’s a common slang used by criminals on the street, which means “f--k the police,” the retired officer wrote. “And yes, that is strait from the mouth of our current District Attorney folks. We deserve better.”
Gonzalez deleted his “ftp” post, then issued a statement in an attempt to paint himself as a victim.
“#ftp would never ever ever mean, if said by me, f the police,” he argued. “To me it means #forthepeople or #fthatputo.”
“When u attack me or show me love u can figure out which one applies to you,” Gonzalez added. “I’m not sure why this is news, man y’all reaching. I don’t know why I even engage with some of these keyboard warriors! #ibacktheblue #loved #hated.”
Gonzalez later told KRIS that he felt attacked by Officer Little’s original post.
“If someone wants to take it out of context, you’re hearing it from me. I would never, ever say ‘F the police.’ That’s ridiculous,” he said. “I call it an attack.”
“We’re actually in trial [on a different case], and I’m having to answer questions,” Gonzalez complained to KRIS. “Everybody wants to know what a hashtag may mean.”
But Nueces County Commissioner Carolyn Vaughn didn’t seem to buy his excuses, and said she was “livid” when she found out about the posts, KRIS reported.
“That’s not what you do when you’re in public office,” Vaughn said. “People criticize you and disagree with you all the time. You do not call them names. You do not attack them. You take constructive criticism.”
Vaughn said she believes Gonzalez’s policy change is a “first step towards decriminalizing crime.”
The list of misdemeanor offenses that will no longer be prosecuted if an offender is also charged with a felony include drug possession, criminal trespass, discharging or carrying a weapon, resisting arrest, interfering with public duties, false report, and reckless driving, among others, the Caller Times reported.
The CCPOA noted that the policy change will just embolden criminals.
"The Nueces County D.A. is also sending the message to the citizens of our community that they are insignificant and not entitled to justice when that same offender enters or damages their property," the union said in a statement. "The D.A.'s list includes many other charges that will induce lawlessness and empower those that chose to break the law."
During an interview with Politico in 2018, Gonzalez said that he struggled in college, having graduated 285th out of 286 students.
He then failed the bar exam on two occasions, before he passed the third time by just one point.
Gonzalez then went to work as a defense attorney – a job he’d dreamed of having since his own DUI conviction as a young adult.
“I let my clients see my tattoos, to feel like I was just like them,” he told Politico. “The reality was, I am a lot like them, except I have a law degree.”
In 2008, the founder of the Calaveras motorcycle club asked him to be their attorney.
Not only did he accept the offer without hesitation, he also joined himself.
He became known as the “Mexican Moses” for setting suspects free, and soon began eyeing the district attorney’s office.
“If I become DA…with a stroke of a pen, we can help thousands of people, people like us, who need the help,” Gonzalez said of his decision to campaign for the position, according to Politico. “When I say people like us, I mean people of color or people of not color who don’t have the financial means or education. That’s real progress. That’s real advocacy. That’s the way to help somebody.”
He said he was shocked when he ended up winning the election.
“It was like, ‘Holy s--t, it happened,” he said.