San Francisco Police Texting Scandals Exposes Deep-seated Institutional Racism

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Racist officer Lai, shown right

[Speaking Truth to Power]

For the second time in two years, the San Francisco Police Department is embroiled in a scandal regarding racist text messages—and the Justice Department has launched an investigation into scores of racist text messages that were sent by now disgraced Officer Jason Lai—and other officers—that have come to light.
In the messages, Officer Lai, and his police buddies call Black people “nigs,” “monkeys,” and “wild animals,” and—talk about “killing half-breeds.”
Will the officers who engaged with Officer Lai in these racist texts be fired from the force?
The recent racist text messages that were released, and those from a few years ago, signals to us that police departments in San Francisco and in Los Angeles are filled with badge-wearing bigots whose bullets eventually kill Black people.
In light of these racist text messages by Officer Lai, approximately 200 cases are in need of review. If one takes into account the original bigoted texts of a few years ago, this question must be asked: how many innocent Blacks have been wrongfully arrested—or murdered—because of these racist cops who have been given authority and guns to police Black people? Another important question is: why are racist police officers so comfortable with their racism amongst other officers?
For years, the usual excuse that was used by police, and their apologists, whenever a horrible case of police abuse came to light was the “few bad apples” defense. Ironically, because of the ubiquity of video technology, that claim has been overwhelmingly debunked. Continually, we’ve seen video after video, and case after case, of outrage after outrage.
This week, we’ve seen the video, again coming out of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago, of African-American Pastor Catherine Brown being pepper-sprayed and beaten outside of her home, by Chicago Police—as her two young children screamed in horror at the police terrorism. Incredibly, she was charged, and eventually acquitted of attempted murder. She is now suing the City of Chicago.
Last week’s horror show video, from Oklahoma, was that of 37-year-old African-American Army veteran Elliott Williams who was left—for five days—on the ground of a cold jail cell where he died. This Black man, who “served his country,” had his neck broken by police—and died in a similar manner like Freddie Gray. Although Mr. Williams was screaming for days—and didn’t move from the position he was lying in—police and their medical staff decided he was faking his injury.
Ironically, Officer Lai, who is of Asian descent, is an example of the kind of police racism that has infected even non-White officers. Often we’ve been told police racism can’t be present in a case where a “minority” officer is present. That notion is nonsense, as several recent cases indicate.
In January, former Oklahoma Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping and victimizing 13 Black women. He carefully chose Black women, particular those with criminal records, to target and rape. Holtzclaw, a criminal justice graduate from Eastern Michigan University, no doubt racially profiled his victims—calculating no one would care about the rapes of Black women with criminal records.
Is it just a coincidence that Holtzclaw didn’t target White women with criminal records?
In New York, a travesty of justice was recently inflicted on the family of Akai Gurley when Judge Danny Chun sentenced Asian Officer Peter Liang to no jail time—a sentence that was also made possibly by the outrageously lenient recommendation of Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson. Officer Liang shot, he says accidentally, Gurley and while the young man was dying, Liang called his PBA rep—not an ambulance.
Liang’s action here shows he knows Black lives don’t really matter to White America—or her White police departments.
What we witness in these cases is how racism—especially, against African-Americans—has been imbibed and utilized by other non-White groups, especially those who are willing to oppress others to further their blind career ambitions. Even Black officers are brainwashed to profile and target other Black people as the “usual” criminal suspects. Racism 101 seems to be a prerequisite for being accepted in many police departments.
In one of the racist text messages sent by Officer Lai, he refers to Black people as “hock gwai,” a Cantonese phrase which reportedly means “black devil.” This reference is symptomatic of how Black people are viewed by police officers, America’s criminal justice system—and by many in White America. This is why there are people in other “minority” groups who don’t want to be associated with Black people.
In another of Officer Lai’s text entries, after Game 2 of the 2015 NBA Finals, Lai attacked Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. “I fucking hate LeBron,” said Lai. “Fuck that nigger.”
He also attacked President Barack Obama. “Do you know what Obama coffee is?” he asks an apparently unknown police officer. “Black and weak.” The hatred for President Obama—that has best been exemplified by Birther buffoons like Donald Trump—can be seen in other cases where White law enforcement officials have also made racist comments against America’s first Black president.
The common thread here is to denigrate and delegitimize anything that resembles Black America. Officer Lai’s attack on President Obama is echoed by nearly every obstructive action we’ve witnessed by Republicans ever since his political ascendancy to the presidency. The slanderous demonization of President Obama is equally a demonization of Black people in general.
Imagine, while Republicans have investigated and sued President Obama for every damn thing, these supposedly upstanding politicians somehow see absolutely nothing wrong with the state of police violence and outright murder in Black communities. Congress and the political establishment at-large continue to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the corrupt culture of America’s police departments. And while they do this, some, incredibly, insinuate that it is the police who are being victimized.
Shouldn’t this tell us they approve of the police violence and murder of Black people?
As the Justice Department now investigates the San Francisco Police Department, those cases handled by Officer Lai, and his prejudice police pals that involve Black people, and other minorities, should face serious scrutiny. We’ve been told police are “law enforcement officers.” Which is why they should be severely punished when they violate “the law,” otherwise, we can rightly assume the political rhetoric of upholding “law and order” is indeed code for trampling on the rights of Black people.
This explains in crystal clear terms why politicians apparently have no problem with the fact that racist police like Officer Lai are more common than we are usually led to believe. It also speaks volumes as to why the political establishment refuses to take any action to hold police accountable for their brutally bigoted and murderous behavior. Over the last two years, we’ve seen every judicial tactic used to exonerate cops.
In Ferguson, Staten Island, and in Cleveland prosecutors Bob McCulloch, Dan Donovan and Tim McGinty all perverted the judicial system when they finagled those grand juries to prevent Officer Darren Wilson, Officer Daniel Pantaleo and Officer Timothy Loehmann from facing anything remotely resembling justice.
To add insult to injury, Mr. Donovan is now a congressman—and killer-cop Pantaleo is still being given a paycheck by the citizens of New York City. Thankfully, McGinty—who basically blamed 12-year-old Tamir Rice for his death—was voted out of office by the people of Cleveland.
The exposure of these texts is yet another example of institutionalized racism within police. Some police officials give us soundbites saying racism won’t be tolerated. Unfortunately, racism is not only being tolerated within police, it is apparently encouraged and expected.

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