Emails screamed "White Power!" and "“All niggers must fucking hang!"
|Police chief Greg Suhr. Photograph: San Francisco Foghorn/flickr|
San Francisco’s chief of police has moved to dismiss eight officers who allegedly sent and received racially charged and homophobic text messages that included references to lynchings, white power and burning crosses.
Chief Greg Suhr called the text messages “reprehensible” and “hateful” at a press conference on Friday, during which he sought to distinguish the misconduct of a few officers from the rest of his force. “There were eight standing officers who engaged in such repulsive conversations via text messages,” Suhr said. “I have suspended them and they have been referred to the police commission with a recommendation of only termination – as it should be. Their conduct is incompatible with that of a police officer.”
Suhr’s recommendations come at a time of heightened scrutiny on the relationship between police officers and minority communities, snapped into focus by high-profile police killings in New York, Cleveland and Ferguson, where a US Department of Justice investigation revealed racist emails sent by police officers in the department there.
Fourteen San Francisco officers and department employees are alleged to have sent or received the text messages in 2011 and 2012. The messages included slurs against black people, Mexicans, Filipinos and gay people, police said. The phrase “white power” was used repeatedly.
One read: “All niggers must fucking hang.” Another said: “Cross burning lowers blood pressure! I did the test myself!”
The scandal reached the highest echelons of the force, with Suhr recommending the removal of a captain, a sergeant and six officers. The longest-serving officer had been on the force for 23 years. Suhr called it “particularly disheartening” that such individuals were involved.