PITTSBURGH, October 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Allegheny County Democrat Party in Pennsylvania has forced the resignation of its executive director after just one month on the job, for a pair of social media postings, including one expressing reverence for the American flag and Christian cross.
The party hired Marine and Gulf War veteran Mark Salvas as executive director in September, CBS Pittsburgh reports, but asked him to resign last week after uncovering a year-old Facebook post declaring, “I stand for the flag, I kneel at the cross”; and a July post in which his wife sought donations for the legal defense of a police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager.
“This whole entire situation is awful for all involved,” Cindy DeZort-Salvas wrote, according to Pittsburgh’s local NPR affiliate. “But I personally know this family, and they are good people. Family helps family. They were there for me and I am there for them.” The Salvas have a biracial child and other black relatives.
In addition to an expression of patriotism and faith, the kneeling comment was taken as a rebuke of NFL players who have knelt during the National Anthem at the start of games, a gesture meant to protest to the alleged racism of America generally, and police specifically.
Officer Michael Rosfeld, meanwhile, has been charged with criminal homicide for the death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II, who was attempting to flee a June 19 traffic stop. Rose was a passenger in the car, which the police suspected of being involved in an earlier shooting. If convicted, Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala says Rosfeld could potentially spend the rest of his life in prison.
Allegheny County Democrat Committee solicitor Jim Burn confirmed in a statement that Salvas was no longer with the party, but said the party wouldn’t be making any further public comments because “this is a personnel matter.”
Elected Democrats from the district have been much more vocal.
“There is troubling stuff on his Facebook page. This does not line up with the party’s mission or where it wants to go,” claimed committee vice-chair and state Rep. Austin Davis. “You have to decide which side of the aisle you want to stand on, and I’m always going to stand on the side of the victims.”
State Rep. Jake Wheatley applauded county Democrat chair Eileen Kelly and others for making a “swift choice between the wishes and aspirations of the base of their party, and an individual who was clearly tone-deaf to the region.”
Yet Salvas stands by both posts. “I’m not ashamed of my patriotism, not one bit. I fought for this country. I think I have a right to have a voice and be patriotic,” he told CBS, adding that he also recognizes athletes’ right to take a knee.
As for the second post, Salvas said “we can all agree” that Rose’s death “was a tragedy,” but at the same time he knew Rosfeld “since he was literally 3-years-old.” His family “have been there for us in hard times, and my wife and I felt it was necessary to be there for them because family backs family.”
“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 lamented.
The most recent posts on the Allegheny Democrat Party’s Facebook page have been met with numerous commenters angered by Salvas’ firing.
“SO the dems [sic] are against FREEDOM of RELIGION?” one asked. “He’s a vet who spoke his mind and that is obviously no longer allowed in the Democrat party,” another lamented.
“Don’t try to bury this Mark Salvas thing,” a third commenter warned. “If [you] don’t start dealing with the problem soon [your] hand will be forced. Consider this a friendly warning.”