SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The social turbulence surrounding the San Jose Police Department has intensified following recent revelations or racist and anti-Muslim writings.
“Some of the comments that I’ve seen, absolutely abhorrent. I was shocked by some of them,” said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia. Added Reverend Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP, “We’ve told you these cops exist in your department. and you keep saying they don’t. and we keep telling you they do.”
Blogging platform Medium published examples of offensive material and posts from as recently as May 29. Using a private platform entitled "10-70DSJ,” several former and retired SJPD officers expressed views such as, “Black Lives don’t matter.” Another wrote, “I say re-purpose the hijabs into nooses.”
“These men and women have guns, badges, and qualified immunity. So, how safe are we?,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Council on American-Islamic Relations
In response to a May 29 downtown San Jose demonstration that turned violent, with one participant injured by police using rubber bullets, former officer Steve Wilson posted, “I have no sympathy for the idiot who got his eye hurt.”
“You are what you are privately and publically,” said Reverend Moore II. “It seems to be a mindset that is in policing that, groups of them get together and have an attitude like this.”
Nothing can be done to retired officers who made offensive posts. But the four officers currently serving are all on suspension with pay, pending the outcome of an investigation.
Chief Garcia said he’ll move to terminate the guilty.
The police union said it won’t defend any found to have made racist or Islamophobic posts. The district attorney said he is reviewing the case logs.
“I don’t want any of our prosecutions to be tainted by work that was done or motivated by bias or hatred,” said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
The FBI is also investigating the posts. Similar acts of hate have been met with terminations for three North Carolina lawmen referring to Blacks as the “N-word.” The mayor is hopeful investigations into the SJPD officers, and the police culture will lead to permanent change.
“This is a reckoning,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Through this very painful time, we’re going to find a better community.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that some retired San Jose police officers were still active members of the department.