The Boca Raton Police Department is stating on social media that video of an officer fist bumping with a white supremacist was taken out of context.
Footage of an unnamed officer in the Florida community surfaced online, which caused a backlash from many users on social media sites where it was posted. In the short clip, the officer is seen clearly fist bumping a man, identified as white nationalist Patrick Little, who is holding a sign that reads, “Jews rape kids.”
Upon the initial video release, outrage and scorn for the department was well-deserved. However, Boca Raton Police soon released the full footage of the video, which they suggest helps explain the situation a little better.
Another man had ripped apart Little’s sign. That event forced officers into arresting that individual for doing so, although that man was released moments later at the scene of his arrest. Still, officers had to conduct a thorough report of the incident, which included taking photographs of Little’s sign.
During that process, Little had extended his hand out to the officer for a handshake. The officer refused, citing an illness that he had, and offered the fist bump instead.
Boca Raton Police Department’s Twitter page, in responding to criticisms of the fist bump, explained that they don’t support Little’s message of hate in any way, shape, or form.
“We spoke w/ the @BocaPolice officer involved. He does not condone Little’s message and was simply trying to get his cooperation to complete his investigation,” they explained on Twitter.
We spoke w/ the @BocaPolice officer involved. He does not condone Little’s message and was simply trying to get his cooperation to complete his investigation. We’ve released a portion of the officer’s body cam video which better explains the interaction. https://t.co/pMyaFpQhq2 https://t.co/28GIJzNzqg— Boca Raton Police (@BocaPolice) August 24, 2018
The initial scorn against the department was understandable, given that other officers across the country have been found to have engaged in similar behavior. Upon release of the Boca Raton Police Department’s video, however, and even with the video evidence and explanation given, residents are still justified in being upset.
The officer fist bumped with a bigot, using an illness to say he couldn't give a handshake. This suggests he would have shaken his hand otherwise. A handshake with this man would have been just as bad.
It's good that the department released a statement later signaling that they didn't condone Little's beliefs. Still, the jovial interaction with a known white supremacist was not appropriate. Even if it was done in lieu of a handshake, the fist bump between the officer and Little deserves scrutiny, if only to alleviate the concerns of many residents in the city.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Getty Images, Steve Skinner Photography