An anonymous blog post accused retired and current San Jose police officers of posting racist and anti-Muslim comments in a private Facebook group, leading to 4 officers put on leave amid the investigation.
What We Know:
- A Medium blog post published over the weekend chronicled various inflammatory posts by retired and current San Jose police officers, detailing discussions in the private Facebook group called “10–7ODSJ.” The group name “10–7ODSJ” is a reference to the police code for off duty.
- A spokeswoman for the San Jose Police Department said on Sunday that the police were conducting an “administrative investigation.” The department did not identify the officers involved or put on leave, as “the department is conducting an Internal Affairs investigation, and therefore we cannot comment on personnel matters.”
- “While I have no control over what former employees post online, I can voice my outrage after hearing about these comments made online,” the police chief, Eddie Garcia, said in a statement. “Any current employee involved with bigoted activity online will promptly be investigated and held accountable to the fullest extent in my power. We have no place for this.”
- The blog post starts, “I am the partner of an active law enforcement officer in a San Francisco Bay Area police department. For the sake of my safety and my family’s safety, I have chosen to remain anonymous.” The post goes on to detail and included screenshots of retired and current officers in the San Jose Police Department allegedly using the private group to “freely express their true thoughts and ideas” that were often racist.
- “In closely reading their posts, it is very disturbing to find how much hate, prejudice, and racism they harbor,” the author of the Medium post said.
- For example, the article flagged a comment from a current SJPD motor officer reportedly saying that “Black lives don’t really matter.” That same officer allegedly wrote an anti-Muslim comment about a woman who filed a lawsuit against the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, saying that deputies forced her to remove her hijab while in custody. “Hell, I would have pulled it over her face,” the officer wrote, according to the Medium article. A retired officer reportedly added, “I say re-purpose the hijabs into nooses.” That officer also posted an offensive image of a fake advertisement for a “Sharia Barbie,” with a line saying “stoning accessories available.”
- The screenshots include an alleged post by a retired officer who lambastes Black Lives Matter protesters as “racist idiots,” “un-American” and “enemies,” saying “that the police ‘swore an oath against’ them.” The author continues, “he condemns any of his FB friends who support BLM and completes his post with multiple expletives.”
- The Medium post also alleged that an officer currently assigned to SJPD’s training unit posted a message in 2015 “that racially profiles and stereotypes all Muslims as being terrorists.” According to the post, the training unit is responsible for instruction combating race-bias policing.
- The local police union is taking steps to distance itself from the reported comments in the private group. “There is no place in our police department or our union for racists or bigots or those that enable them by not speaking up,” Paul Kelly, the president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, said in a video statement. He added, “And I say this to anyone who participated, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association will provide you no shelter, no protection. We will not represent you because you do not represent us”.
- San Jose District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement that his office’s Conviction Integrity Unit would perform a “comprehensive review” of all cases in which current and retired officers had a role. “What I just read sickened me and made me sick for our entire community. No one who expresses these types of disgusting, racist comments should ever wear a badge,” Rosen said. “Anyone who writes this kind of trash has no role in our criminal justice system.”
- San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is calling for an investigation and said that if current officers are found to have made such comments, they should be fired. “I demand and expect a full investigation, and further expect that racist, anti-Muslim or menacing comments expressed by any current SJPD Officer will be met with termination,” Liccardo said in a statement.
- The SJPD is currently in charge of the investigation, but the FBI is aware of the investigation into the officers’ reported comments on social media.” If, in the course of the local investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal crime, the FBI is prepared to investigate,” the FBI official said.
- The discovery of the online group coincided with racial justice activist and police critic Shaun King’s writing about a different private Facebook group where he said former members of local law enforcement appeared to be discussing a plot to kill him. The author of this post on Medium said King’s article weighed on their conscience and prompted them to expose the San Jose Police Department’s private Facebook page.
- The blog post continues, “This is just a small snapshot of ‘10–7ODSJ’. While the contents of this secret FB page may be entitled to confidentiality, it is crucial to consider and address the explicit values and beliefs that police officers have and how it affects their role in enforcing the law. Can an officer who professes to pull a woman’s hijab over her head or that black lives don’t really matter be trusted to equally enforce the law?”
The anonymous author concludes the post by demanding action and accountability. “Join me in demanding that the San Jose Mayor and City Council hold the San Jose Police Department accountable for the racism that exists within their police department. Demand that the leaders themselves who have turned a blind eye to this bigotry also be held responsible for a failure to take action. Demand that a system be instituted that does not persecute whistleblowers. Until these demands are met, there will be no meaningful change in our community if true reform WITHIN the police department does not occur.”