Phoenix Police Delete Soleimani Tweet After Backlash

Phoenix police's Friday morning tweet
Phoenix police's Friday morning tweet Via Twitter/Facebook
Early Friday morning, a drone strike near Baghdad International Airport authorized by President Donald Trump killed Iran's top security and intelligence commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Iranian leaders have responded with calls for revenge against the United States for the attack.

“His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands,” Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a statement.

The Pentagon released a statement after the attack, saying, "At the direction of the president, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani ... General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region."

"The flag of General Soleimani in defense of the country's territorial integrity and the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region will be raised, and the path of resistance to US excesses will continue," President Hassan Rouhani of Iran countered in his own tweet several hours after the strike. "The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime."

In the wake of the attack, the Phoenix Police Department sent a hashtag-heavy tweet to their roughly 65,000 followers. The tweet was apparently meant to assure Phoenix residents that they were safe, but the message had the opposite effect, instead prompting panic, accusations of fear-mongering, and calls to delete the tweet.

"There are no known threats locally but the #safety and #security of the residents of #Phoenix is our number one concern. The Homeland Defense Bureau of the #PhxPD is in close contact with our local, state and federal partners regarding events around the world. #iran #soleimani," Phoenix police tweeted at 7:30 a.m. on Friday.

Amid backlash and an inquiry from AZfamily (3TV/CBS 5) "about any possible increased security measures," Phoenix police deleted the tweet.

Detective Luis Samudio, a spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department, told Phoenix New Times the department deleted the tweet because it was "not received as intended."

"The recent information that was sent on Twitter was only intended to inform the community that we are not aware of any threats and reassure the community that safety and security is our top priority," Samudio said in a statement emailed to New Times. "The Twitter post was not received as intended."

Phoenix police aren't alone when it comes to tweeting about monitoring threats following the airstrike in Baghdad. The commissioner of the New York Police Department, Dermot Shea, and the Los Angeles Police Department both shared tweets on Friday morning stating that they are monitoring the situation in Iran and currently have no evidence of credible threats against either major city.

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Meg O'Connor was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from April 2019 to April 2020.