A man who served as a municipal judge for a small town in upstate New York has resigned his post and been permanently barred from judicial office after he posted a meme to his Facebook page that included an image of a noose along with a "Make America Great Again" caption.
Kyle Canning, 29, who worked as a town court justice in Altona, New York, posted the meme in February 2018 that included an image of a noose and a caption that read: "If we want to make America great again, we will have to make evil people fear punishment again."
Canning's post was set to public, an investigation by the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct found. Canning had only been in his post for a month when he posted the image to his Facebook page, with his term set to expire in 2021.
The justice was served with a formal complaint in May that charged him with conveying racial and political bias. On Thursday the commission released the results of its investigation into the post.
"The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations. It is the very antithesis of law and justice," Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in the statement. “For a judge to use the image of the noose in making a political point undermines the integrity of the judiciary and public confidence in the courts."
Canning resigned his post in June, writing in his letter to the Altona town supervisor that he felt like he was being coerced into leaving.
"It has been a pleasure serving this town as one of its justices, and I will greatly miss my duties," Canning wrote. "l do formally apologize for the inconvenience and hardship that I have imposed on my co-justice and the Town of Altona."
Canning told the New York Times that his interpretation of the meme was that the post supported the death penalty and did not consider its racial implications.
“There is not a man that I could despise more than Donald Trump,” he said.
“The post was not racist. I’m not a racist guy,” he added. “I see it as pro-death penalty, pro-capital punishment. It doesn’t need to be a noose; it could have been a gas chamber. It could have been an electric chair.”
As municipal court judge, Canning would hold court every week to help deal with a range of matters that included vehicle and traffic infractions as well as some criminal matters.
Photo: State of New York Commission of Judicial Conduct