Allegheny County, PA – A top Pennsylvania Democrat said he was forced to resign from his position, after he defended the American flag and expressed his support for an East Pittsburgh police officer.
Former Executive Director of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee Mark Salvas, who is also served as a Marine and is a Gulf War veteran, said the party asked him to resign due to two social media posts, KDKA reported.
Both posts were made prior to Salvas being hired as the executive director of the committee, according to the news outlet.
The first was related to a Sep. 28, 2017 post Salvas made on Facebook, which showed a picture of him and his wife.
“I stand for the flag, I kneel for the cross,” the caption read, according to FOX News.
The second incident involved a post his wife made in July, when she asked for others to support East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, who has been charged with murder in the June 19 death of Antwon Rose, KDKA reported.
Rose, 17, had participated in a drive-by shooting just minutes before the vehicle he was riding in was pulled over by Officer Rosfeld.
Officer Rosfeld told investigators that he shot Rose after the teen jumped out of the suspect vehicle and turned his hand toward the officer, according to court documents.
Officer Rosfeld said he “saw something dark” in Rose’s hand, but that he “was not sure what it was,” the court documents read.
The officer fired his weapon at Rose, hitting him three times.
"Both families are grieving,” Salvas told FOX News on Tuesday. “I just happen to know the officer's family very closely. We decided we wanted to show support and be there for them as they were for us when my family had gone through tough times in the past."
“What happened to Antwon Rose was a tragedy,” he told KDKA. “I don’t think anybody doubts that. I think we can all agree on that. A young man lost his life and that’s a shame."
“Officer Rosfeld, Michael Rosfeld, is as close to me and my family as anyone could be. I have known that young man since he was literally three years old. They are family to us,” he added.
Salvas noted that the court would ultimately decide whether Officer Rosfeld is guilty or innocent, FOX News reported.
Salvas also refused to apologize for honoring the American flag.
"I’m not ashamed of my patriotism, not one bit," he told FOX News. "I fought for this country. I think I have a right to have a voice and be patriotic."
Salvas said he believes that those who disagree also have a right to take a knee.
“That’s part of what the flag stands for,” he told KDKA. “It gives them the right to do that.”
But Pennsylvania State Representative Ed Gainey told KDKA that Salvas’ posts were “insensitive” to “African Americans.”
“To put that up on Facebook was, to me, insensitive, also to African Americans, who, as you know, have backed the Democratic Party for quite a long time, and everybody knows that it was insensitive,” Gainey told the news outlet. “If you’re going to be executive director of the Democratic Party, you have to be sensitive to things like that.”
Gainey also said he does not believe Salvas, who has a bi-racial child and several black family members, is a racist.
“There’s a place for all of us and all of our views,” Gainey said.
Pennsylvania State Representative Jake Wheatley said that party officials are expected to set their personal beliefs aside.
“As an official, he has to be very careful and sensitive that his words and his posts are not necessarily just his,” Wheatley said. “They are reflective of the party in its entirety.”
On Oct. 10, Salvas confirmed that he was asked to resign his position due to backlash about the posts.
“I was asked by the chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Party to resign my position due to the controversy that was taking place on social media, and I did,” he said. “It’s never easy when people you have never met accuse you of things and call you names, and you’ve never met them.”
He had just been hired for the position in September.