Connecticut's Correction Department and Attorney General's Office launched investigations Monday into the anti-Muslim social media posts of a state prison guard.
The move came Monday after the Connecticut Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations called for the firing of Corrections Officer Anthony Marlak, citing posts on Facebook that included a meme depicting five apparently Muslim men hanging from nooses with the caption, “Islamic Wind Chimes.”
“What's happening in Washington is showing us that there is a nexis between the far right-wing in this country that has morphed into terrorists and law enforcement and military folks who show some sympathy with that ideology,” said Farhan Memon, the chairman of CAIR-CT. “It is incumbent on public agencies to root that out.”
Marlak's Facebook page, under the alias Tony Mint, has a profile that reads “I am the prototype, infidel, veteran, boss. Stand back and I will handle it. Now walk away.”
He did not immediately return a phone call to his auto detailing business or text messages on Facebook seeking comment.
But during an interview with Correction Department officials following a confrontation with a Muslim correction officer this past summer, Marlak acknowledged reposting the wind-chime meme in 2018, when he was using a different alias, Anthony David. He said it was targeting ISIS and not Muslims in general.
“It was ISIS — dead ISIS hangin' from nooses, OK?" he said, according to a transcript obtained by CAIR through a Freedom of Information request. “In the military, any red-blooded American, like I've told a bunch of people, we just — we don't like ISIS. They do bad things to our people and I'm anti-ISIS. Not anti-Muslim. And I found it humorous because I have — that's my personality.”
Marlak was given a five-day suspension in December for his part in the confrontation and for making what were deemed inappropriate remarks toward the other guard.
The latest public posts on Marlak's page echo several right-wing conspiracy groups including QAnon and blame the riots in Washington on “Antifa” posing as Trump supporters, a theory that has been debunked.
“Out of curiosity, you see tons of people wearing Trump hats, Trump T-shirts, etc. has anyone ever actually seen someone wear a Biden T-shirt or hat?” one post reads. “I was just thinking about this and it blows my mind. Is it just that most Democrats and pedophile supporters are just embarrassed?”
The Correction Department, in a statement Monday, said its Security Division and Legal Affairs units were reviewing the information provided by CAIR to determine appropriate action. It said the department does not tolerate or condone discrimination.
The attorney general's office said it had assigned two senior staff members to also investigate the complaint.
State Sen. Saud Anwar, a South Windsor Democrat who is Muslim and a member of the legislature's Judiciary Committee, said he discussed the issue Monday with acting Correction Department Commissioner Angel Quiros. He said Marlak was making all the good and decent employees of the department look bad.
“Whatever information and mechanisms are resulting in the radicalization and hatred that are developing in our society, we have to fix this,” he said. “One thing we should all agree on is that we should treat other people the way we ourselves wish to be treated. With that in mind, we must, we must, we must start to humanize each other.”