More than a dozen St. Louis Metro officers have been benched over their racist ramblings on social media, however, the city’s police chief said he’s still unsure if there are any white supremacists on his force.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden said he doesn’t know if there are officers within his department who hold those bigoted views, days after a sergeant told CBS This Morning that she believes there are.
“I guess what I’m saying is I don’t know if there are any white supremacists on our department,” Hayden told local station KMOV 4. “What I’m saying is that if we believe that there are white supremacists in St. Louis, St. Louis is a big place — the police department is only a microcosm of the city, so if we believe that there are white supremacists in the city then we have to believe there are white supremacists on the department.”
“But I’m saying you know can we identify them; do we know that for a fact? I don’t believe we do,” he added.
The chief’s remarks come after top police official and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said he’s “not surprised” by the contention that the St. Louis Metro Police Department is riddled with racists.
“My job is to root that person out,” Edwards said.
Last week, St. Louis Police Sgt. Heather Taylor pointed to several racist Facebook posts authored by city officers when asked if she believes there are white supremacists among her ranks. Twenty-two of the department’s officers were recently exposed and suspended over their offensive online behavior.
“Have you seen some of the Facebook posts of some of our suspended officers right now?” Taylor replied.
A recent report by the Plain View Project and nonprofit newsroom Injustice Watch flagged posts by hundreds of police officers that included derogatory comments about minorities, memes celebrating police brutality and even questions over whether celebrating Black History Month is “racist.”
One post from a St. Louis cop compared the Black Lives Matter movement, which protests racial and social injustice, to the Ku Klux Klan.
Hayden told KMOV 4 that racial tensions have plagued St. Louis for some time and that it’s hard to know someone’s views pertaining to race. He added that he’s more concerned with people’s behavior and whether they choose to act on those bigoted beliefs.
The police chief’s remarks were met with swift criticism, however, by social media users who accused him of playing ignorant.
“‘I don’t know’ = There definitely are white supremacists in the department but I know they’ll fire me if I say that publicly,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Ummm Hayden needs to look at social media,” another chimed in.
One critic joked: “The police chief be like “Bird Box” on obvious racism in the St. Louis police department.”
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