City leaders along with San Jose’s police chief and police union vowed to investigate Friday after retired and active officers were accused of posting bigoted and racist comments in a private Facebook group.
The officers’ comments were brought to light by an online blogger in a Medium post published Friday titled “Racism and Hate behind the Blue Wall: Exposing Secret Law Enforcement Facebook Groups.”
The author, described only as the partner of an active San Jose officer, said they were driven to speak out after a recent blog post by racial justice activist Shaun King describing a plot by former law enforcement members to kill him.
The Medium article on Friday included examples of racist posts by San Jose officers with derisive and threatening comments about Muslim women, with one officer who posted:
“I say re-purpose the hijabs into nooses.”
The same officer posted an image of a ‘Sharia Barbie,’ depicting a doll with a black eye that “comes with a hijab, bruises, a Quran, and stoning accessories,” according to the Medium article.
In the private Facebook group called “10-70DSJ”, one retired officer describes Black Lives Matter activists as “racist idiots,” “un-American” and “‘enemies’ that the police ‘swore an oath against’,” the Medium article states.
Another current officer commented:
“Black lives don’t really matter.”
San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia condemned the group’s posts, saying he was “outraged” after hearing about the online comments.
“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.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo called for an investigation and said any officer who posted racist comments would be fired.
Liccardo said Friday:
“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.”
The mayor said he was pushing for reforms and a “a disciplinary process that allows unaccountable arbitrators to reverse termination decisions of the chief.”
The mayor said he wanted independent investigation of “all racially discriminatory conduct.”
San Jose Police Officers Association president Paul Kelly denounced the closed Facebook group posts and said the union wouldn’t shelter any officers who participated.
Kelly said in a video post:
“The news that I read today about members of our union and former members of our union participating in an on-line ring of hate makes me sick and I say this to anyone who participated…the San Jose Police Officers’ Association will provide you no shelter, no protection.”
Any member of the union who participated in the Facebook group would be expelled from the union, Kelly said.
“To the community we serve, we are sincerely sorry and our actions must rise to meet this terrible stain on our profession.”