In just the latest scandal involving police officers and racist messages, several officers in San Francisco have been suspended after revelations that they’d exchanged racist and homophobic texts.
The text messages, which included racial slurs against gays, African Americans, Filipinos and Mexicans, were made public in court documents revealed by federal prosecutors as a result of a federal investigation into a sergeant in the San Francisco Police Department who was convicted of fraud and conspiracy earlier this year.
The investigation included a search of the sergeant’s personal cell phone, which revealed the racist and homophobic texts.
One of the text messages read “All n*****s (expletive) hang,” according to NBC Bay Area.
In another text message, an unidentified officer asks the convicted sergeant, Ian Furminger, “Do you celebrate [Kwanzaa] at your school?” Furminger replies, “Yeah, we burn the cross on the field. Then we celebrate Whitemas.”
The fallout has included the resignation of two officers, two others being reassigned and referred to the police commission for discipline, and four others facing lesser punishments.
“It just makes me sick to even talk about this,” San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters on Friday. “There were eight standing officers who engaged in such repulsive conversation via text that I have suspended them and they have been referred to the police commission with a recommendation of only termination.”
The scandal is just the latest in a string of similar incidents that have taken place across the country in recent months.
In March, four Fort Lauderdale police officers were fired after a racist video and a string of similarly vile text messages were uncovered.
The video, which officers sent among themselves, included Ku Klux Klan hoods, racist and homophobic comments and disparaging and derogatory insinuations about President Obama.
One of the text messages in the Florida case boasted, “We are coming and drinking all your beer and killing n*****s.”
And just last week, three former corrections officers in Florida were arrested by the FBI in a bizarre Ku Klux Klan murder plot to kill a former inmate the officers had once guarded.
According to an NBC report, Charles Thomas Newcomb, Thomas Driver and David Moran – alleged members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – had planned to kill a formerly incarcerated black man who apparently bit one of the men during a jailhouse fight.
“The facts of this case are despicable,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said on Thursday, according to First Coast News. The plan, according to Bondi and local news reports, was to kidnap the former inmate, inject him with insulin and stage his drowning. The FBI instead concocted a plot of their own, and staged the man’s death themselves, even going as far to produce photos that appeared to show that the man was shot and killed.
“They were happy about it. They shook the sources hand and the source even went to the point of asking them, ‘is this what you wanted?’ and they each said ‘yea,’” State Prosecutor Nick Cox said.
For the better part of seven months, since the killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, demands for police reform and greater accountability have been raised across the country.
A grand jury declined to indict Brown’s shooter, officer Darren Wilson, who later resigned from the police force. But in the coming months as the Justice Department wrapped up parallel investigations into Brown’s killing and of the entire Ferguson police department, federal investigators found a shocking pattern of racially biased policing in Ferguson, including rampant violations of federal law and the constitutional rights of black residents. The DOJ also found that the police were working in tandem with municipal court leaders in a scheme that used unfair arrests, fines and fees of black residents to bolster the municipal budget.
Some of what was uncovered during the DOJ’s investigation into the Ferguson police department included a string of racist emails and messages sent between various city officials, including police and municipal court leaders.
On Friday, some of those racist emails were released. Some of those emails likened black people to dogs, joked about the abortion of black babies as a crime fighting tool and made derogatory and racist remarks about President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
First published by The Washington Post, a number of the emails seem to had been sent between former police Capt. Rick Henke, Sgt. William Mudd and former Court Clerk Mary Ann Twitty. Henke and Mudd resigned as the scandal broke. Twitty was fired.