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One shouldn’t expect “back the blue” America to care much about how common it is for a police group chat to resemble a digital Disney-Klan amusement park, but to Black people, racist texts shared between officers indicates the cops involved in these text exchanges will profile, harass, over police, disproportionately arrest brutalize or kill Black citizens while on duty. It’s really that simple: I fyou’re sharing racist texts, you’re racist. If you’re racist, you might kill me. 

A Contra Costa County judge released the names of 17 Antioch, California, police officers who stand accused of using racial slurs, making racist jokes and sharing racist memes in text threads over a period of two years, according to the East Bay Times.

The exact contents of the alleged text messages hasn’t been revealed, but Judge Clare Maier warned that the messages were so offensive they could “incite further hate or racial animus.” She also called them “deeply disturbing” and said they targeted “members of the Black and Hispanic community.”

One shouldn’t need to stretch their imagination much to picture what those threads looked like, anyway. A bigot with a badge could probably fill their entire photo gallery with the George Floyd memes alone.

While the text themselves are still being kept oin the hush, the officers’ disclosed names include that of the president of Antioch’s police union. And if the guy whose job it is to protect cops from allegations of racism is also alleged to have engaged in racism, it’s just hard not to imagine a culture of policing in Antioch that involves cops who would trade their handcuffs for nooses if it were still socially acceptable.

The list of 17 names also includes five officers who are already under FBI investigation for alleged crimes. Maier declared that the list of names “doesn’t deserve protection” under the California evidence code.

From the Times:

Among the officers Maier named was Rick Hoffman, the president of the Antioch Police Association, who has been a frequent critic of Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, a police-reform advocate. Hoffman was among the officers placed on leave over the texts, according to multiple Antioch law enforcement officials.

“We’ll go through some challenges because of staffing. Absolutely,” said Thorpe. “But if that’s what they’re doing (making racist and homophobic texts), I don’t want them here.”

The existence of the text messages became known last month as a result of an ongoing federal probe into Antioch and Pittsburg police officers, but Friday’s developments made clear just how many officers are involved in both scandals plaguing APD.

The FBI — which is investigating alleged fraud, bribery, drug distribution and civil rights violations related to the use of force — found the messages after agents served search warrants on a number of officers’ homes and showed up at the police department to seize phones and other personal items.

The first offensive messages date to September 2019, and they continued until January 2022 when the phones were seized, Maier said.

Of the officers Maier named, five — Devon Wenger, Eric Rombough, Andrea Rodriguez, Calvin Prieto and Morteza Amiri — already have been placed on leave amid the FBI investigation. A sixth, Tim Manly, has resigned from the department.

In addition to Rombough and Manly, six other officers — Joshua Evans, Jonathan Adams, Scott Duggar, Robert Gerber, Thomas Smith and Brock Marcotte — are accused of specifically referencing in the texts alleged members of the Oakland-based ENT gang during an investigation that resulted in 48 arrests. Those texts were sent during a 10-day period in March 2021 when Antioch police were wiretapping phones of the people under investigation.

So, the racist police union president criticized the Black mayor for advocating reform for racist police departments, and among the identified cops are accused criminals who will likely say they only mock Black and brown people who are accused criminals. Got it.

“The culture of the department requires further exploration including how the hell all this alleged misconduct could go on for so long without anyone on our command staff noticing. From lieutenant on up to chief,” Thorpe said in a video posted to youTube.

While the racist texts Antioch cops are accused of sharing only go back a couple of years, but the apparent history of police racism in the city goes back much further, which is likely why the mayor “called for an independent audit of the police department’s internal affairs process, including examining all complaints from over the past eight years,” according to ABC 7.

More from the Times:

In 2000, Antioch was 65 percent white. Now, 39 percent of Antioch’s residents are white, while Latino or Hispanics make up 34.5 percent of the city, and the Black population has increased from 10 to 20 percent over two decades, according to census data.

Attitudes toward police have changed drastically, too. In the early 2010s, residents regularly pressured the City Council and police chief to hire more officers, faster, out of concern for growing crime rates. A decade later, in 2020, a younger generation of city residents staged protests and even a hunger strike to speak out against police brutality.

“I’ve had my eye on Antioch for a long time. This is proof-positive what people who have been watching Antioch already knew — that it is full of officers who do not deserve to wear the badge,” civil rights attorney Adante Pointer said Friday.

“It’s no wonder why the public has lost faith in law enforcement and why we see Black and Brown people overrepresented in the criminal justice system when the people administering it are racist,” Pointer said.

But please, tell us more about how it’s just a few bad apples.


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