The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has had several instances of misconduct, particularly regarding issues of race. This is why groups such as Black Lives Matter have protested in San Francisco and pushed for the resignation of SFPD’s police chief, Greg Suhr.
A new scandal regarding one of the SFPD's officers will certainly not help improve the public’s opinion of the police force.
Officer Jason Lai was discovered to have sent numerous racist, homophobic, and generally offensive text messages to other officers; he resigned from his position earlier in April.
The texts were initially found as a result of a “corruption probe” into officers. CNN obtained many of the texts and published the most egregious of these to demonstrate the extent of Lai’s racism and bigotry.
According to CNN, Lai insulted almost every minority group: “In addition to disparaging blacks, Hispanics and Indians, Lai used coded language to talk about gay officers, according to a source, and made a blanket statement impugning residents of the city's largely minority and low-income Tenderloin district.”
Texts included stereotyping and disparaging African-Americans—“They're all drug dealers in the TL” and “F*ck that n*ig,” referring to LeBron James—along with denigrating Indians: “Indian ppl are disgusting.”
Lai also used Cantonese terms to convey his racist thoughts, calling African-Americans “hak gwais,” which is a derogatory phrase.
In one instance, Lai was involved in a situation, in which he described black suspects as a “bunch of hock gwais shooting each other.”
“Sprained my ankle over these barbarians," Lai texted another officer.
The officer responded that one of the suspects "went to the hospital after he got shot lol.”
Lai’s thoughts? "Too bad none of them died. One less to worry about."
This level of blatant racism is disgusting to find in police departments, particularly as we have seen officers consistently target and racially profile African-Americans. To find proof of the inner thought processes of these officers is somewhat terrifying.
Lai’s defense for his actions is laughable. According to his defense attorney, Don Nobles, the texts were "not reflective of who he is" and that "there is no evidence he carried out any of those sentiments as an officer."
Chief Suhr commented that, “When somebody demonstrates that they have this reprehensible character trait, we need to cut them from the body”; however, considering the repeated pattern of bigotry and corruption found in the SFPD, the whole body may need to go.
Banner / Thumbnail : Wikimedia Commons / Highway Patrol Images