By Calvin Palmer
A Boston police officer was placed on administrative leave today pending a termination hearing following racist remarks allegedly made in an e-mail.
Officer Justin Barret, 36, a member of the National Guard is alleged to have made racial slurs to describe Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in an e-mail to fellow guardsmen and the Boston Globe.
A spokesman for Boston police said: “Police Commissioner Ed Davis was made aware of a correspondence with racist remarks and yesterday removed the officer of his gun and badge.”
Boston’s mayor, Tom Menino, was quoted referring to Barrett as a “cancer in the department” and calling on him to be fired.
The mayor said that Barrett was trained in racial profiling prevention and had shown no signs of racial discrimination in the past.
Barrett’s union, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, said they condemn and “strongly denounce these statements as being offensive and hurtful”.
But the union added that investigators should consider all the facts and not rush to a conclusion.
Police said Barrett does not have previous violations with the department.
The email allegedly written by Barrett lambasts Gates for getting into an altercation with police.
“I am not a racist, but I am prejudice towards people who are stupid,” reads the alleged diatribe — containing frequent grammatical and spelling errors — against Gates and the Boston Globe newspaper.
“He has indeed transcended back to a bumbling jungle monkey.”
Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct in his home near Harvard University by a white police officer who was responding to a report of a possible burglary. The charge was later dropped but the case sparked a national debate over racial profiling, one that was intensified when President Barack Obama said Cambridge police “acted stupidly.”
Meanwhile, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer accepted the resignation of Lee Landor, his deputy press secretary, after she called Gates a racist and referred to President Barack Obama as “O-dumb-a”.
Landor’s comments on Facebook were inappropriate, Stringer said in a statement.
Landor defended her entries, but added: “It is understandable that a black man encountering police will be suspicious of racial profiling, based on the long history of racism in this country.”