St. Louis Police Officers Under Investigation for Racist and Anti-Muslim Facebook Posts
|thenorthstar||Jun 7, 2019|
Police in St. Louis, Missouri will undergo sensitivity training after allegations that current and former officers made racist and anti-Muslim posts on Facebook. The internal affairs division of the St. Louis police department is investigating allegations that some police officers from the department made racist and violent Facebook posts, the St. Louis-Post Dispatch reported.
The posts were discovered by the Plain View Project, a Philadelphia-based online database composed of Facebook comments and posts that were made by former and current police officers from different jurisdictions across the nation. The project was launched in 2017 and used rosters of police officers to find verified Facebook accounts, the project’s website states.Emily Baker-White, the founder of the project, told the St. Louis-Post Dispatch that there were 43 accounts tied to St. Louis police officers, 22 of the officers are currently officers of the Metropolitan Police Department of St. Louis and 21 of the posts are by former officers.
Some of the Facebook posts by the officers included Confederate imagery and Islamophobic comments. “I am depressed by the findings and I think we need to do better,” Baker-White told the publication. “I think there are enough of these posts out there that this doesn’t seem like a ‘bad apples’ problem, it seems like a culture problem… I fear that people in these communities might be less likely to ask an officer for help. They aren’t calling 911 when they need protection because they fear police officers aren’t in their corner.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Missouri (CAIR-MO) called on the mayor and the police chief of St. Louis to investigate the Facebook posts. “We are utterly shocked and sickened by the extent that white supremacist, racists and Islamophobes have infiltrated the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” Faizan Syed, executive director of CAIR-MO, said in a statement on Monday, June 3. “Officers cannot serve and protect people who they hate. City officials must immediately take action, investigate this situation, hold those officers accountable, and take serious meaningful actions to rebuild trust.”
The North Star has reached out to the city of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office for comment but did not hear back in time for publication. In a statement to KTVI, Krewson said there has been an investigation launched, calling the Facebook posts “disturbing.”
“These posts are disturbing and unacceptable... we expect professionalism out of every city employee,” Krewson told the news station. “No exceptions.”
In addition to the investigation, Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 4 that the officers from the department will undergo sensitivity training, starting with the department’s 60 to 70 police sergeants. Edwards told the publication that several city workers have already been disciplined for their social media posts in 2017, noting that two public safety employees were fired.
In May, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland criticized the comments made by the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) after it had implied that some of the children involved in a large fight at the Inner Harbor were “criminals.” “To our officers at the Harbor tonight: protect each other and don’t fall into the trap that they are only kids. Some are criminals! Keep the current policies and Consent Decree in mind. If ordered to arrest put the name of the on-scene Commander in all reporting,” Baltimore City FOP’s Mike Mancuso wrote in a Tweet on May 25.
The comment came a few hours after a fight broke out on May 22, and many children of all ages were seen hitting people, WJZ previously reported. Six people were arrested following the incident, according to the news station. The ACLU of Maryland condemned Mancuso’s tweet, calling his remark “unacceptable.” “UNACCEPTABLE! Trust between community members and the police has been broken for a long time. Comments like this do nothing to repair that trust,” the organization tweeted following Mancuso’s remark. “Instead it encourages racial profiling tactics, excessive force, and excuses officers for disregarding the rights of Black children.”
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.