State Dept. of Corrections assistant general counsel resigns over offensive social media comments

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A Florida Department of Corrections attorney has resigned over comments he made about black people during a conversation on Facebook.

“Black people need to stop raping, murdering, stealing, and vandalizing, and quit having children out of wedlock. That’s how literally every other once-despised ethnic group broke the cycle and entered into the middle class mainstream,” Eric Giunta wrote during a series of comments.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported the story Wednesday.

Guinta has worked as an assistant general counsel to the department since December 2017, according to his LinkedIn page.

“This individual’s comments are absolutely unacceptable and are not in line with the values of the Florida Department of Corrections, nor are they a reflection of the thousands of dedicated professionals who serve our agency daily. We are launching an immediate disciplinary review of his actions,” Communications Director Michelle Glady said via email.

“Mr. Giunta has resigned effective immediately. We will follow up with any additional questions as new information becomes available.”

Press aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis had no immediate comment.

The Phoenix contacted Guinta at his office, but he has yet to respond. He told the Democrat that his comments were in response to a video posted by Facebook account holder Holly Taylor Coolman, a theology professor at Providence College.

The video discussed systemic racism. In a written statement to the Democrat, Guinta said:

“I took offense at a video, posted by a Facebook friend, attributing the challenges facing black individuals and communities to ‘systemic racism’ on the part of ‘whites.’ My response was admittedly brusque, but I obviously did not mean to suggest that all or even most black people are criminals, violent or otherwise.

“Rather, I was pointing out what I perceived to be the deficits of the video: the failure to address the effect relatively high crime rates, and astronomically high out-of-wedlock birth rates, have on black communities and the ability of many blacks to break out of the economic-depressive cycles the video refers to.”

He does not believe social challenges facing blacks are intrinsic to race, he told the newspaper.

“My reply was directed to a social media pen pal, not to the broader public, and my wording was admittedly inartful,” Guinta wrote. “Suffice it to say I, a son of immigrants, do not have a racist bone in my body.”

African Americans comprise 16 percent of Florida’s population and 46 percent of its prison population, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.

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