Police in Los Angeles and San Francisco have come under fire after authorities uncovered racist and homophobic text messages and emails in which minorities were referred to as “barbarians” and “wild animals.”
Three officers in San Francisco have already left the police department after the messages were discovered and a fourth is facing disciplinary measures, officials said.
On Tuesday, authorities released details of text messages exchanged between the three former officers in which they used the N-word to refer to black people, and described Arabs as “rag heads.”
The messages could affect at least 207 criminal cases, including three for murder, San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi told reporters.
He said the slurs were discovered as part of a separate probe over rape accusations against Jason Lai, one of the former officers.
In one of the text messages Lai compares black people to “barbarians” and a “pack of wild animals on the loose.”
“It is chilling how casually former officer Lai dehumanizes the citizens he was sworn to serve,” Adachi said. “He wished violence upon the very people he was being paid to protect and none of his colleagues turned him in.”
In Los Angeles, the county sheriff’s chief of staff, Tom Angel, has also come under the spotlight for emails he forwarded in 2012 and 2013 mocking Muslims, blacks, Latinos and women.
Angel at the time was a top police official in the city of Burbank, near Los Angeles.
According to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained a copy of the emails, one message forwarded by Angel on January 7, 2012, lists a series of terrorist attacks attributed to “devout Muslim male extremists” and says “Muslims, gotta love em can’t punish em …….?”
Officials at the sheriff’s office in Burbank could not be reached for comment but Angel told the Times he did not mean to embarrass or demean anyone and that it was unfortunate his work emails had not been kept private.
“Anybody in the workplace unfortunately forwards emails from time to time that they probably shouldn’t have forwarded,” Angel told the Times. “I apologize if I offended anybody, but the intent was not for the public to have seen these jokes.”