Activists in Boston are calling for the removal of the city’s second-highest paid employee from a key committee, after it emerged that he was an infamous police figure nicknamed ‘Pepper Jack’ for his liberal use of pepper spray, according to the Boston Globe.
An officer who appears to be Captain John ‘Jack’ Danilecki, who has been investigated more than 20 times, was caught on camera at a Black Lives Matter protest last month in the Massachusetts city, appearing to snatch a sign from a Haitian protester and ripping it up.
‘He’s like the avatar of cop violence in Boston,’ said Joey Peters, 37, who told The Boston Globe he found himself on the wrong end of Danilecki’s pepper spray canister during a protest last year.
Captain John ‘Jack’ Danilecki, the second-highest public servant in Boston, is facing calls for his removal from a safer streets liaison committee
On June 9, the city’s Vision Zero committee, which promotes safer streets, wrote to Mayor Martin Walsh to ask that Danilecki be removed from his liaison role.
They accused Danilecki of an acting in ‘aggressive, escalatory, and unacceptable manner towards peaceful protestors’.
‘It is unacceptable for an officer who engages in brutal tactics against civilians to be the liaison between BPD and those of us who are fighting to make our streets safer,’ the committee wrote.
The incident involving a Black Lives Matter protester occurred on May 21.
The Haitian man was peacefully walking along the road, fellow activists claim, when his placard was seized.
In the moments before the encounter, captured on an eight-second video, an officer who appears to be Danilecki and other officers yelled at the group.
Someone within the group of officers allegedly told the protester to ‘go back to the hood,’ protesters told the Boston Globe.
The video does not capture the comment.
However, the person filming can be heard shouting, ‘Are you going to tell him to go back to the hood again?’
An officer who appears to be Danilecki then grabs the sign and rips it apart.
Danilecki, a veteran of the BPD, has earned the nickname ‘Pepper Jack’ for his use of force, according to the Boston Globe
Danilecki, a supervisor at the police department, was paid $350,000 including overtime last year – second only to Lieutenant Timothy Kerbin.
The chief of Boston Police Department (BPD), William Gross, earns $255,000 a year.
Sergeant Detective John Boyle, BPD spokesman, confirmed that the department has six active internal investigations into Danilecki.
Since 1993, the department has investigated Danilecki 20 times, Boyle told the Boston Globe.
Of the 14 investigations that have been closed, he said, three were sustained, with punishments ranging from a verbal reprimand to a one-day suspension.
Last August Danilecki was seen confronting the crowds during the Straight Pride Parade, an event that drew thousands of pro-Trump and pro-military protesters and counter-protesters to downtown Boston.
Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing political commentator and former editor of Breitbart, who is openly gay, was the grand marshal of the Straight Pride Parade.
In various videos taken that day, Danilecki can be seen releasing pepper spray and allegedly aggressively grabbing and pushing protesters.
One video, posted by a user calling himself Long Johns Brown, shows Danilecki backing a protester away from him until he stumbled backwards and falls to the ground.
Another, tweeted by Christopher Schmidt, appears to show him forcibly attempting to rip the mask from a protester’s face and arresting him.
Danilecki is seen confronting a protester during the raucous Straight Pride Parade in August
According to the Boston Globe, in 2004, the department launched an internal investigation into Danilecki after a Boston Globe report identified 17 instances of so-called ‘double-dipping’ — collecting pay while working private details in different locations simultaneously.
The charge was ultimately sustained, according to Boyle, and Danilecki received a verbal reprimand.
In another incident two years earlier, the paper reported that Danilecki received a one-day suspension after a local attorney said he was prevented from filing a complaint against a patrolman who had allegedly shoved him outside the home of a client.
Neither the Boston Police Department nor Danilecki have responded to requests for comment.
Danilecki does maintain support within the community.
Danilecki, left, poses with a bicycle being considered for police use in April 1993
Arnold Pressman, a retired business owner in Mission Hill who got to know Danilecki when he worked in the area, praised the officer in the paper.
‘He’s not afraid to mix it up,’ he said. ‘If you’re having a problem, he’d probably be the guy you’d want alongside you.’
The Rev. Jeffrey Brown of the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury told the Globe he was surprised to learn this week of the recent allegations against Danilecki.
He said Danilecki played a ‘critical’ role in helping to broker a ceasefire during a surge in gang violence in the mid-2000s.
‘During that period of time, there were very few police officers who were willing to work with clergy,’ said Brown.
‘Even though Boston is a very progressive police department, you saw people on the force who saw that as soft work.
‘But Jack was always one of the first to jump in.’