Four More Cops Fired Over Racist Texts and Video

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before (and if you’ve been paying attention, you certainly have). A group of police officers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida have been fired after an investigation found a record of sending incredibly racist texts and making videos fantasizing about killing minorities.

A five-month internal investigation led to three of them being fired, and one of them resigning, according to NBC Miami. The officers reportedly sent a trailer-style video amongst themselves containing a Ku Klux Klan hood, attacks against minorities, derogatory images of President Obama and racist comments about Hispanics and homosexuals.

“I had a wet dream that you two found those n—–s in the VW and gave them the death penalty right there on the spot,” one of the texts reads. Many of their extremely hostile and racially charged conversations can be read at the Sun Sentinel.

According to another text, one of the officers said, “We are coming and drinking all your beer and killing n—–s.”…

Jason Holding, James Wells and Christopher Sousa were terminated Friday. A fourth cop who created the video, Alex Alvarez, resigned.

Now the obvious question: How long before they have jobs with other law enforcement agencies?

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  • Abby Normal

    I’m not entirely comfortable with this firing. A five month investigation found no misconduct on the part of the police officers. Based on the limited information in the linked article it appears the officers were fired for having an unpopular opinion. People have a right to work. That’s the entire basis for anti-discrimination laws. To have the government take away one’s job for exercising freedom of conscience and speech seems counter to liberty.

    I understand being a police officer is a position of public trust and the video damages that trust. But being an atheist is also wildly unpopular. Atheists are consistently cited in polls as the least trustworthy group. I would not be comfortable with an atheist officer being fired over fear the public doesn’t trust him or her. So what’s the line?

  • moarscienceplz

    Abby Normal #1

    So you are OK with giving firearms and permission to use them to people who say they have “wet dreams” about killing people just because of their skin color?

    Fuck you.

  • alanb

    How long before they have jobs with other law enforcement agencies?

    Is this a pool? I’ll put $5 on six weeks.

  • abb3w

    Abby, there seems a qualitative difference between “unpopular” and “damaging trust”. These police are fantasizing about activity that if actually carried out would not merely be “unpopular”, but rather would be unlawful; and using racially charged language that would seem likely at least correlated with federal civil rights violations. Rather than the “impersonal authority of law”, either would seem to suffice to strongly contribute to an “appearance of impropriety” under the law — which mere atheist affiliation would not.

  • brucegee1962

    If someone was fired for being an atheist, that would be unacceptable. If he was fired because he wrote fantasies about killing Christians, however, that would be entirely appropriate.

  • Abby Normal

    Abb3w & brucegee1962,

    Religious tests for office are also illegal. I’ve seen atheists on this site claim belief in gods should disqualify people from public office because it demonstrates a lack of intelligence and critical thinking ability. Would it be appropriate for the government to punish them?

    Moarscienceplz,

    Private citizens can own and use guns. Are you suggesting the government should take those away too? But to answer your question, no, I’m not comfortable. But I’m not comfortable with infringing on citizens’ constitutional rights either, which is why I brought up the topic for discussion.

  • teawithbertrand

    Abby,

    If these guys were fired from some inconsequential private sector job for engaging in this behavior, you might have a point, but they weren’t. They were fired from being the administrators of law and order over the very people they fantasized about killing in their video. You can argue that they have a right to work, but nobody has a “right” to be a police officer. I understand the need to respect their freedom of conscience and their right to hold whatever nauseating views they like, but dangerous assholes like this have no business being in positions of public authority.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I don’t see a problem with keeping them on the force, as long as they stipulate that their records may be used to impeach any testimony of theirs in court.

    Then again, the stipulation might not be needed. In which case the Department might have doubts about their value in the jobs that they held.

  • eric

    Atheists are consistently cited in polls as the least trustworthy group. I would not be comfortable with an atheist officer being fired over fear the public doesn’t trust him or her. So what’s the line?

    The line is drawn when the fact in question is credible and relevant evidence about job performance. When an arresting officer takes the stand in a case where a citizen was beaten and tazed, asking “are you an atheist” or “are you a Christian” is irrelevant. Asking “did you write this text message saying you fantasize about beating and tazing citizens” is relevant.

  • abb3w

    Abby Normal

    I’ve seen atheists on this site claim belief in gods should disqualify people from public office because it demonstrates a lack of intelligence and critical thinking ability.

    And, if any such vocal atheists hold government civil HR positions, it would seem potentially appropriate to fire such an atheist over saying that. (Leaving aside that such a person’s own intelligence and critical thinking, and therefore suitability for employ, is similarly called into question by the claim — that it’s correlated doesn’t make it a demonstration, and the correlation isn’t even straightforward.) If such atheist were a judge, it similarly might be the beginnings of a reason for them to recuse themselves from cases involving public office holders, though not necessarily from all cases involving religious parties; one may still believe that even the stupid deserve justice before the law. It might by some stretch also cause a problem for managers, whether government or otherwise, over questions of impermissible employer bias.

    Contrariwise, for most non-managerial government jobs, that would seem to be a political opinion that does not directly interfere with their job function, since they lack the capacity to directly act on such ambitions save through (quite uphill) advocacy through the political process.

    Nohow, your analogy seems poorly thought out, with ill-fit would-be parallels.

    (Incidentally — which atheists made the claim where? Was it here at the Dispatches, or another of the FTBorg?)

    @8, D. C. Sessions

    I don’t see a problem with keeping them on the force, as long as they stipulate that their records may be used to impeach any testimony of theirs in court.

    Well, that itself might be one practical root problem. Such a statement would seem to impeach the credibility of any statements they make regarding any interaction they have with minority defendants, in turn devaluing their testimony in court to the verge of leaving them at most suited only to administrative desk work — if that.

  • marcus

    They have shown a proven disregard for the well-being and equal rights of persons in their community that they are sworn to protect and to serve, as well as the Constitution of the United States that they have sworn to uphold.

    They are both liars and oath-(contract) breakers. This is where the line is drawn.

    Fire their racist asses, with cause.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    But if those minorities would just stop talking about race, none of this would be an issue. They’re the real racists.

  • marcus

    PS @ me If an atheist were caught sending violent and derogatory texts about how they “have wet dreams” about abusing and killing Christians no one would even be asking the question about whether or not their First Amendment rights were abrogated by firing them.

    They would be figuratively, if not literally, lynched and you would read about there perfidy in every blog and rag in the country.

  • Michael Heath

    moarscienceplz writes:

    So you are OK with giving firearms and permission to use them to people who say they have “wet dreams” about killing people just because of their skin color?

    Fuck you.

    We need authentic free speech advocates to challenge where the line is drawn. Abby Normal’s making a good faith argument; I think it’s worth consideration. If we’re going to improve our lot, we need more honest speech that challenges positions that all too often are passively or lazily taken.

    I happen to disagree with Abby Normal here, but his past posts and the post @ 1 have earned our consideration.

  • lorn

    “How long before they have jobs with other law enforcement agencies?”

    Given a willingness to take a substantial loss in pay and benefits, and possible move to a smaller town, odds are they might not need to be out of work for more than a week. Termination may or may not exclude unused sick and vacation days. The typical pattern seems to be a couple of weeks off to unwind and cool off, let the media attention die down a bit, before diving in to an exciting and fulfilling job in Mayberry RFD playing the part of Barney Fife to a jerkwater sheriffs idea of Andy. Good chance they get to take out their frustrations on the poor locals.

    And the beat goes on …

  • marcus

    Michael Heath @ 14 Agreed.

  • eric

    [moar] So you are OK with giving firearms and permission to use them to people who say they have “wet dreams” about killing people just because of their skin color?

    Fuck you.

    [michael] We need authentic free speech advocates to challenge where the line is drawn.

    I’m a pretty strong advocate. Unlike Ed in his more rhetorical mode, I think the first amendment should even cover statements that sound like treason or sedition because 99.99% of the time people make such comments, its bluster. (IMO) there should be fairly strong evidence of serious intent or planning of criminal acts before some speech is considered illegal; there’s just too many cases of people using such speech to vent or for rhetorical purposes for us to take a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ position.

    But I don’t think this is a particularly hard case and its certainly not comparable to the situation Moar is talking about. Firing a police officer for some conduct /= taking a second amendment right

    away from a private citizen. As we all know, the first amendment does not protect you from being fired from your job. Neither does the second. If some private citizen makes some bombastic or inflammatory racist comment on their own time, no they should not necessarily lose their second amendment rights over it. If that same person makes the same comment on the job, yes they can certainly lose their job over it. When that person is a public servant and the comment is advocating illegal action, even for me a ‘strong advocate’ I can see how this could be a legitimate cause for firing.

  • vereverum

    I doubt it would be a first amendment issue. The article says there was no “criminal behavior” found and that they were fired for misconduct, and quotes one official about “zero tolerance” for this type of behavior, which would imply the violation of a written policy or rule rather than merely content of the speech. There are probably other types of speech and activities that would be considered unbecoming an officer of the department spelled out in the same policy or rule.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    Yeah, no, Abby Normal.

    Based on the limited information in the linked article it appears the officers were fired for having an unpopular opinion.

    They weren’t fired for the holding of “unpopular opinions.”* They were fired because the particular opinions they documented are antithetical to the positions they held.

    They were fired for expressing bigoted and murderous hostility toward certain segments of the population it was their job to protect and serve.

    .

    * Assuming for the sake of argument you’re right about their opinions being unpopular. It’s Florida, after all.

  • zenlike

    Abby, still defending the extremist 4chan viewpoint of “speach should not only be free, it should also be free from any consequences.”

  • oldskoolnyc

    @ #15. Just take a look @ the Tamir Rice shooting. Officer Timothy Loehmann was essentially forced out of a Police force in a nearby town because (Independence deputy police chief Jim Polak wrote that Loehmann had resigned rather than face certain termination due to concerns that he lacked the emotional stability to be a police officer. Polak said that Loehmann was unable to follow “basic functions as instructed”. He specifically cited a “dangerous loss of composure” that occurred in a weapons training exercise, during which Leohmann’s weapons handling was “dismal” and he became visibly “distracted and weepy” as a result of relationship problems. The memo concluded, “Individually, these events would not be considered major situations, but when taken together they show a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions, I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”) These are the types of people who get police jobs after being forced out of one department.

    Also, cops usually don’t talk that way about other cops, which proves that Loehmann was just a bad seed, and was totally unfit to police. Hopefully whatever police force these douchebags apply to, vet them very carefully!

  • Anne Fenwick

    As to expressing unpopular opinions, none of the passages quoted here express an opinion at all. ‘I think we should treat black citizens with extreme and random violence’ is an example of an opinion I hope is unpopular. These kinds of fantasized scenarios are far more insidious. They normalize and motivate towards those actions within the group which shares them, but they are never pinned down, questioned or justified as an opinion would tend to be. It’s actually hard(er) to imagine someone stating and defending my example opinion. But that’s hate speech for you: insidious, irrational, fundamentally cowardly, all too effective and very rarely relying on something as negotiable as an opinion.