If You Still Weren't Sure That Racism Is Pervasive Among Cops: Meet The Louisiana State Police

Illustration for article titled If You Still Werent Sure That Racism Is Pervasive Among Cops: Meet The Louisiana State Police
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Though this year (this horrid, horrid year) has been punctuated with ever-multiplying police killings of Black people, you may be one of the depressing faction of Americans who are steadfastly-dedicated to denying that systemic racism is a problem with law enforcement in this country—or in this country at all.

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Luckily, a bunch of newly released emails and audio recordings of police officers at the Louisiana State Police being super dedicated to being racist should help disabuse you of that notion.

The records—which were unearthed as part of a public records request by David Lanser, a civil rights attorney in New Orleans—show the pervasive use of derogatory anti-Black language by officers at the State Police, reports AP.

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In one incident, a white trooper named Gus McKay was at his dinner table disparaging a Black cop he worked with and calling him the n-word—all while being recorded by the Apple watch he was wearing.

From AP:

A Black trooper with the Louisiana State Police was on a break when his cellphone buzzed with an unusual voice message. It was from a white colleague, unaware his Apple Watch had recorded him, blurting out the Black trooper’s name followed by a searing racial slur.

“F——- n——, what did you expect?”

That unguarded moment, sent in a pocket-dial of sorts, touched off an internal investigation at Louisiana’s premier law-enforcement agency that remained under wraps for three years before a local television station reported last month that the white trooper had not even been reprimanded for the racist recording.

The Black trooper who was the unwitting recipient of the inadvertently recorded diatribe about himself seemed to be surprised by his fellow cop’s racism, saying that just a week earlier he and Mckay and been hanging together at a restaurant.

“So after that, fast forward, you are sitting around having this conversation? It’s like darn,” said the Black trooper to the agency’s internal investigators.

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For his part, McKay’s defense was simply that his racism “wasn’t supposed to get out.”

“It would be like me accidentally sending a picture of my naked wife to someone,” McKay is quoted as telling investigators. “The stars couldn’t have lined up any worse.”

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“It wasn’t supposed to get out” is probably the guiding principle of the racist Louisiana State Police, which waited until this month to finally release body-cam footage of their officers brutalizing Ronald Greene, a 30-year-old Black man who died over a year ago under shady circumstances. The footage viewed by Greene’s family reportedly shows the man being hogtied and repeatedly classed as a “son of a bitch” while being tazed and beaten by State Police troopers, who later claimed that he was killed in a car crash.

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Before retiring on Friday, the former head of the Louisiana State Police Col. Kelvin Reeves said the case of the caught-on-tape racist was an “isolated incident.”

But a survey of the records say that is a lie.

There was Reeves’ refusal to discipline other employees of the agency for their blatant racism, like the state trooper and the administrative assistant who sent chain emails from their work accounts about being “proud to be white” and that white Americans “have lost most our rights.”

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There’s the white troopers who talked about not wanting to work a shifts alone with two Black cops, describing the apparently distasteful scenario as an “Oreo.”

There’s the white troopers who said one of their Black colleagues looked like a monkey in his uniform.

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Then there’s the captain who repeatedly referred to one of the Black troopers under his command as “Django,” and called the Black cop a liar when he said he was offended by it.

And there’s the State Police sergeant who disparaged yet another one of the agency’s Black cops by saying, “Have you not seen a Hershey’s Kiss when left in the sun?” when a child asked why they had left their patrol car idling with the air conditioner on.

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(Am I the only one noticing this trend of Louisiana’s white troopers not even bothering to hide how little of a shit they care for their Black brothers in blue?)

In light of the newly released records, the Baton Rouge branch of the NAACP is calling for the Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation into the Louisiana State Police.

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Meanwhile Col. Reeves has been succeeded by a Black superintendent, Capt. Lamar A. Davis.

But if you believe a Black face is enough to fix the corrosive racism embedded in the Louisiana State Police, then you haven’t been paying attention—to this article, or to anything at all really.

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Correction: 11/1/2020, 12:20 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story did not link correctly to the source article from the AP. That link has now been fixed.

Writer, speaker, finesser, and a fly dresser. Jamaican-American currently chilling in Chicago.

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DISCUSSION

“It would be like me accidentally sending a picture of my naked wife to someone,” McKay is quoted as telling investigators. “The stars couldn’t have lined up any worse.”

It’s not really like that at all, though. Assuming his wife is okay with it, there’s nothing wrong with him having pictures of her naked, the only issue is that it got out. In contrast, being racist is bad, even if no one finds out about it. In fact, it’s probably better in this case that his colleagues found out what sort of a person they were working with.