There was certainly a time in this country when cops were free to be as openly bigoted as they wanted to be. But in recent times—and especially over the last year as an unending wave of protests against systemic racism in policing has erupted across the nation—white supremacists in blue have been facing a bright national spotlight shining all over them, and it’s making it increasingly more likely their bigoted ways will catch up to them. And Black people—who, frankly, have always lived in an America where the badge and the swastika are often indistinguishable from each other—are more than happy to see the prejudice po-po finally being held accountable.
In Torrance, California, two former police officers were charged Thursday for allegedly spray-painting an impounded vehicle with a swastika, and 13 more officers with the Torrance Police Department have been relieved of duty amid an ongoing investigation into messages of “racism and hatred” they’re accused of sending each other.
CNN reported that officers Christopher Tomsic, 29, and Cody Weldin, 28, were charged with one felony count each of vandalism and conspiracy to commit vandalism, according to a statement released by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges related to a Jan. 27, 2020 incident in which the two were among a group of officers who responded to a call regarding stolen mail.
Somehow, the investigation into the alleged mail theft led the two officers to a vehicle which they, for whatever reason, ordered to be impounded. When the owner of the vehicle came to the tow lot to retrieve his property, he found a not-so-nice surprise in the form of images spray-painted all over the seats. On the front passenger seat, he found a happy face painted, and, on the rear seat, a swastika symbol. The statement also noted that “other items also had been strewn throughout the vehicle,” without mentioning what those items were.
Tomsic and Weldin were fired in March of last year, and during a joint news conference with the Torrance police chief, District Attorney George Gascón said 13 other officers were suspended for “exchanging racist, discriminatory, homophobic and anti-Semitic messages.”
“We have seen an increase in hate crimes, not only in our own home town but around the country. And it’s unacceptable,” Gascón said, according to CNN. “But it becomes doubly unacceptable when we have the people that are sworn to protect all of us who engage in this behavior.”
To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you feel about the dumpster fire of racism and corruption that is America’s justice system), the District Attorney’s office has identified hundreds of cases the suspended and terminated officers were involved in, and now all of those cases are being reviewed to ensure that citizens aren’t in lock-up or facing charges because some Klan-ish police officer was in charge of the investigation and/or arrest.
Maybe it’s time departments start doing a better job of screening potential police officers before giving them a gun and badge and turning them loose on society. Just a thought.