San Francisco officer alleges ‘blatant racism’ in Police Department
A San Francisco police officer who emigrated from Afghanistan and is Muslim has alleged that he was harassed on the job and retaliated against after reporting racist and homophobic comments by his colleagues.
During a news conference organized by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the officer said he experienced “blatant racism” by other officers and sergeants, who suggested he was a terrorist and called him derogatory slurs.
“Due to the nonstop harassment, I made the formal complaint. As a result they’re now investigating me,” the officer said Tuesday, reading from a prepared statement while dressed in uniform. “I’ve been labeled as a rat, singled out by my colleagues and now fear for my safety.”
The officer, who would not identify himself, joined the department in June 2016, a goal of his since he was 8 years old and an SFPD officer helped his family find their way when they landed at San Francisco International Airport.
The public defender’s office released a redacted copy of the officer’s human resources complaint, which alleged that co-workers harassed him for his race and religion, one once asking him: “Your bag, why is it so heavy? Why is there a wire sticking out? ‘Tick tick’ that’s what I hear.”
He said his locker was vandalized twice with similar messages, according to the complaint. In August 2017, someone wrote “tick tick” on his locker. Three months later, someone had drawn an Islamic State flag with a message scrawled underneath: “Go back.”
A colleague also told him that a “Muslim ban” should be implemented, adding, “Why do we have them here? Get them all out.”
Someone asked him four times when he was going to wear his “dress,” referring to traditional Afghan clothing. During one of those conversations, the person said the officer should put an AR-15 around his neck: “It’ll look a lot better,” the complaint said.
He was told to leave his grenades at home, and to inform an officer if his family members were planning an attack so the officer could “put them down gently.”
In November 2017, the complaint said, the officer was on patrol when a colleague told him: “I want to get guns, and the only people who have guns are blacks and Hispanics. The department doesn’t like us to make judgments like that, but if I see a black person behind the wheel of the vehicle, I’ll pull the car over and figure out my probable cause later.”
He also heard a colleague use homophobic slurs when talking to other officers.
In a statement, the Police Department said it takes the allegations “very seriously” and launched an investigation when a complaint was filed in November.
The agency will “thoroughly investigate all alleged misconduct uncovered during these investigations which implicates any member of this department,” the statement said.
The allegations come as the department is still reeling from a scandal in which police officers traded racist text messages referring to minorities as “barbarians,” “cockroaches” and other slurs.
“It’s notable because San Francisco has had this persistent problem with racial disparities with traffic stops,” said Tamara Barak Aparton, a spokeswoman with the public defender’s office. “He spoke up, he did his duty as a police officer.… Now he’s being made to pay for it.”
The Police Department said that in the last three years, it has implemented implicit bias training for all sworn and non-sworn employees while conducting audits of employee communications.
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