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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Content of Latest Racist SFPD Texts Revealed; Pattern is Not Good

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 10:07 AM

The second batch of racist texts exchanged between San Francisco police officers are now public. The second batch — that we know of. 

One of the more troubling revelations to stem from this latest SFPD racist texting scandal — this one at Taraval Station — is the fact that in both cases the messages were discovered by accident. What does this say about the SFPD? 

Both Jeff Adachi, the public defender, and George Gascon, the district attorney, are right in suspecting — or flat-out knowing — that San Francisco’s police force has more racist and bigoted officers than police Chief Greg Suhr or Mayor Ed Lee will admit.

As Adachi told CNN, "What are the chances of two officers being arrested … and there's racists texts on [their phones]? I don't know what the odds would be in Vegas.”

Adachi is, of course, referring to former Sgt. Ian Furminger and Officer Jason Lai. The texts sent to and by Furminger, currently in federal prison for corruption, became public in a motion filed in federal court to imprison the dirty cop.

In Lai’s case, the texts were revealed during his failed prosecution for sexual assault charges. (Accused at one time of rape, Lai has been charged with wrongly using police information databases.)

Gascon, the former San Francisco chief of police who has spent the last year digging into his old department, searching for racial bias, told CNN he was stunned by the language in the texts.

In case you missed them, here are some of the lowlights in the Lai texts:

On LGBT colleagues: "Passive aggressive 528," in which police code for a fire is used to describe a gay officer.

In reference to a Latino or Mexican person: ”I hate that beaner.”

"Indian ppl are disgusting," with “ppl” being short for “people.”

On homeless people: ”Burn down walgreens and kill the bums.”

On the Tenderloin: ”They're all drug dealers in the TL," his text stated.

The officer also referred to a draft of an official incident report as "a story I wrote today."

And he’s not a fan of NBA star LeBron James: "F—- that nig," the officer wrote. 

Somehow Lai’s lawyer, Don Nobles, is able to believe himself when he claims that the texts are “not reflective” of Lai’s persona. Perhaps scarier is that Nobles also asserts Lai’s popularity, saying, "He was well liked and well loved on his beat.” Was he was policing an intensely racist group of San Francisco residents? 

For his part, Police Chief Greg Suhr told CNN — as he’s told everyone he bothered to respond to — the texts do not reflect the overall mindset of his officers. Last year after the Furminger scandal broke, Suhr tried to fire eight officers involved in the texts. A judge cited a statute of limitations on disciplinary action when ruling against the terminations, although rumors persisted that Suhr knew of the messages long before they became public

Suhr, meanwhile, is the subject of a hunger strike outside the Mission Police Station. Activists led by rapper Equipto, the man who called out Mayor Ed Lee at a diner in October, are calling for Suhr's firing or resignation. 

Suhr has moved swiftly to denounce the texts at every turn, but how many more turns will there be? They say things, good and bad, come in threes. But if another batch of bigoted texts surface, the bad days will be just beginning for Suhr and the city's police.
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