Forty-five Antioch police officers have now been implicated in a racist text messaging scandal that has rocked the East Bay city, Contra Costa County Public Defender Ellen McDonnell told the City Council during a special meeting Tuesday. According to McDonnell, 16 of the officers on the message chain hold leadership positions and one of them is with the department’s internal affairs division.
“This isn’t a few officers; I want to be really clear. We’ve reviewed this,” said McDonnell.
Forty-five officers would represent about half of the Antioch Police Department.
The texting scandal was recently revealed in a 14-page report released by the District Attorney’s Office. That document named 17 officers.
Cops on the text exchange used the N-word to refer to Black people and admitted to manufacturing evidence and brutalizing suspects. One officer said he “field goal kicked” a man in the head and “tried to knock him unconscious.”
In another exchange, officers referred to George Floyd as a “gorilla” and shared a racist image depicting his death at the hands of Minneapolis police. In another exchange, officers talked about shooting Antioch’s Black mayor Lamar Thorpe.
Protests were held outside the city council meeting Tuesday night. During the meeting, the council unanimously voted to audit the police department’s internal affairs unit, its hiring and promotion practices, and workplace culture. These audits are secondary to an investigation by the FBI and Dstrict Attorney’s Office, which has been going on for the past year.
The Rev. Al Sharpton is also calling on the U.S. Justice Department to provide protection to Antioch city officials, including Mayor Thorpe, who says he fears for his life.
"The hood is off for these cops, and we have seen their true colors. When you have 17 members of the Antioch Police Department offering free dinner to whoever shoots the mayor, how can you expect any of them to honestly keep him, let alone anyone else, safe?" Sharpton said in a statement. "I am respectfully asking Attorney General Garland to take over this situation, as we have seen these incidents galvanize those who wish to cause harm against Black elected officials."