Hero California Cops Unwind From ‘Defund’ Stress With Morale-Boosting Racist Texts
More than a dozen current and former cops at the Torrance Police Department in Southern California are under investigation after trading downright hateful text messages. It was like they were workshopping their own Netflix comedy special.
The Los Angeles Times published some especially repugnant examples. Brace yourself.
The caption read “hanging with the homies.”
The picture above it showed several Black men who had been lynched.
Another photo asked what someone should do if their girlfriend was having an affair with a Black man. The answer, according to the caption, was to break “a tail light on his car so the police will stop him and shoot him.”
If you thought the “hanging with the homies” reference was dated, this next one is like a Carnak the Magnificent bit but significantly more racist.
Someone else sent a picture of a candy cane, a Christmas tree ornament, a star for the top of the tree and an “enslaved person.”
“Which one doesn’t belong?” the caption asked.
“You don’t hang the star,” someone wrote back.
These cops really think lynching’s hilarious. They certainly entered the right profession.
The cops shared eHow-inspired directions for how to tie a noose that included a picture of a stuffed animal being lynched inside Torrance police headquarters. The officers really didn’t care much for Black folks. They referred to Black men as “savages” and they weren’t reading aloud from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. They used “several variations of the n-word,” which was the extent to which they appreciated diversity.
Their bigotry wasn’t exclusive to Black people (or whatever version of the “n-word” they’d use to describe us). They “joked” about gassing Jewish people and beating up LGBTQ people. They also boasted about applying excessive force on suspects and lying during a police shooting investigation. There’s no reason to assume they were “joking” about the last part.
This puts local prosecutors in a bind, because the cops’ overt grossness has jeopardized "hundreds of criminal cases in which the officers either testified or made arrests.” The fallout is significant and appropriate: At least 85 criminal cases that involved the Archie Bunker Squad have been dismissed. That includes 35 felony cases that county prosecutors threw out as of mid-November and another 50 cases that the Torrance city attorney’s office dismissed.
[Los Angeles District Attorney George] Gascón has already publicly identified two of the men involved in the scandal as former Officers Cody Weldin and Christopher Tomsic, who were charged in August with conspiracy and vandalism for allegedly spray-painting a swastika inside a vehicle. When Gascón charged Officer David Chandler with assault in late August for allegedly shooting an armed man in the back, sources told The Times that Chandler was also under investigation as part of the scandal.
According to records, Officer Christopher Tomsic sent a photo that referred to a Black baby as “Pet Niguana,” which presumably is one of those creative “n-word” variations.
People sometimes argue that bigots can compartmentalize: Just because they personally hate all minorities, that doesn’t mean they would treat them unfairly professionally. This is of course nonsense. Besides, the cops were operating in their professional capacity. This is not complicated.
Back in 2015, the Department of Justice released a damning report about racial bias in the Ferguson, Missouri, police department. The cops were also sharing racist emails. White Santa defender Megyn Kelly thought it was unfair to assume that people making racist comments on company email were actually racist. Besides, isn’t everyone a little bit racist? (Kelly probably missed the whole point of Avenue Q.)
During the March 9 edition of her Fox News show, Kelly hosted [then Wall Street Journal columnist Bret] Stephens who downplayed the DOJ's report as merely a report about traffic citations, “not a story of institutional racism.” Kelly agreed, saying it is unfair to “tar the entire organization” as racist because “there are very few companies in America, whether they are public or private” where “you won't find any racist e-mails, [or] any inappropriate comments.”
According to CNN, these emails, which Kelly implied are commonplace, "showed a photo of bare-chested dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption 'Michelle Obama's High School Reunion.’ A June 2011 email described a man trying to put his dogs on welfare because the canines were 'mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no ... clue who their Daddies are.’”
Bret Stephens might not consider this institutional racism, presumably because it didn’t involve liberal college campuses “canceling” conservative speakers, but every professional organization sets a tone. These cops shared racist content because they assumed (correctly) that their coworkers would appreciate the “jokes.” This is further evidence of a culture where racism is tolerated, not one where conservatives frantically worry about the Thought Police.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."