A Baltimore Department of Public Works employee is under investigation by the city’s watchdog agency after a Twitter account with his name and photograph was revealed to contain racist, anti-Semitic and Nazi-sympathizing posts, a city councilman said Tuesday.
The Office of the Inspector General has opened the investigation into Crescenzo A. Gizzi, an inspector in the Public Works Department’s wastewater section, said City Councilman Zeke Cohen. Gizzi could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
A review Tuesday of the Twitter account revealed a trove of offensive tweets containing racial epithets, swastikas and other Nazi images, anti-immigrant language and insults to Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and City Council President Brandon Scott.
The Twitter account’s name, photo and handle were changed after The Baltimore Sun’s article was published, and it was set to private after The Sun linked to the updated handle.
In the tweets, Gizzi captioned photos of Nazi soldiers in France, as “True Warriors” and “my kind of illegal immigrants.” In another, he posted a swastika with the caption: “The only German I want to speak is this type of German.” He also tweeted updates on his progress painting a German model tank with an Iron Cross.
Others contained racist language against African Americans and repeatedly called Baltimore and Maryland a “cesspool.”
The Department of Public Works did not immediately respond to a request for comment but wrote on Facebook that the incident “is under careful investigation and if remedial action is found to be necessary, it will be taken promptly.”
“The City recognizes that all employees have the protection guaranteed by the First Amendment to think or believe whatever they choose,” the post reads. “The reports in this instance show speech that is repugnant and hurtful to many people, but the Law Department has made it clear that such thoughts are protected.”
“On the other hand, there exists standards of behavior applicable in the City workplace, as well as prohibitions on the use of City equipment in ways that are not in the best interest of, or might be incompatible with the mission of, the City government to create and maintain a welcoming and safe community for all residents and visitors.”
Cohen, who was alerted to the tweets Tuesday, said he called Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, Public Works Director Rudy Chow and City Solicitor Andre Davis to brief them on the situation. Davis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Cumming and a spokesman for Young declined to comment.
“I’ve asked for an investigation into the hate speech," Cohen said. "I’d like to know whether this individual violated any city policies.”
Scott said he had spoken with the department’s leadership about the posts and was told they would be “investigating and handling appropriately."
“A person with these type of beliefs has no place in city government,” he said.
Gizzi was hired in 1998 and makes an annual salary of $63,681, according to city records.
Cohen said he was horrified by the language in the tweets.