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California

Police tweet calls Muslim American congresswoman ‘un-American.’ Fontana blames off-duty officer

Screenshot of a tweet posted Tuesday April 23 to the Fontana Police Department\'s Twitter account ca
A screenshot shows a tweet posted Tuesday to the Fontana Police Department’s Twitter account that was quickly taken down.

A tweet posted on the Fontana Police Department’s official Twitter account that called a Muslim American politician “un-American” had tongues wagging this week.

Officials initially said the department’s account had been hacked when the tweet was posted Tuesday and then promptly deleted. But a day later, authorities said in a statement that the culprit was actually an off-duty officer.

Officers said they learned about the tweet shortly after 8:30 a.m. after a reporter contacted the Police Department about the post, according to a news release posted Wednesday.

Along with a link to a story about U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and her push to shut down Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the tweet read: “Nice knowing you! I became bulimic because I vomit every time I hear your BS. You are one of the most un-American persons I know.”

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Fontana police quickly countered after being alerted of the post: “This is an embarrassment to the Fontana Police Department,” officials said in a statement. “This careless act does not reflect the values of the men and women that honorably serve our community.”

The message elicited both praise and protests from the internet, with some saying the tweet was “justified” or downplaying it as a “mistake,” while others called out the Police Department for being racist and biased.

Fontana police say the off-duty employee who sent the tweet had permission to make official social media posts on the Twitter account. Authorities say the person — who has not been identified but who a spokesperson says was a “sworn peace officer” — thought the comments were being sent to a personal Twitter feed, but instead were posted on the department’s official account.

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The officer’s access to the department’s Twitter account has now been revoked, Fontana police said.

“A personnel investigation has been initiated, and appropriate actions will be followed,” police said, adding that the social media account’s password protection protocols have been strengthened to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has denounced the tweet.

“We find it highly unlikely someone hacked the Twitter account of the Fontana Police Department to send out one specific tweet,” the advocacy organization said. “The current trend of normalizing hate speech has emboldened bigots in their speech, as well as in their actions, and it is obvious that bigotry exists within the ranks of the Fontana Police Department.”

The organization also called for any results from the Police Department’s investigation to be shared publicly.

It’s not clear what, if any, consequences the officer may face.

“On an issue like this, we want to do a very thorough investigation,” said Sgt. Kellen Guthrie, who would not comment on what the department’s investigation entails.

Guthrie said officers are subject to discipline for actions both on- and off-duty, although he would not comment on whether this officer would be disciplined for the tweet.

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“We can’t get involved in politics,” he said.

alejandra.reyesvelarde@latimes.com

Twitter: @r_valejandra


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