Police Commissioner Ray Kelly broke his silence Tuesday regarding 70 pages-worth of racially charged comments by NYPD officers from the Facebook group "No More West Indian Day Parade Detail." Previously, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne would only confirm that he had referred the matter to the Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation.
According to WNYC, Kelly confirmed that at least 20 of the derogatory comments, in which cops called West Indian Day paradegoers "animals" and "savages" were made by NYPD officers.
"It is disturbing when anyone denigrates a community with hateful speech," Kelly said in a statement. "It is unacceptable when police officers do it. Despite the assertion of First Amendment rights in social media cases, the Police Department reserves the right to discipline behavior it determines unbecoming of a police officer if detrimental to the service, especially when it is disrespectful of communities that officers have taken an oath to protect."
And Stu Loesser, spokesman for the mayor's office said, "The Police Department is investigating and will handle the matter appropriately, as they always do. "If the comments reported are accurate and from the officers, they are completely unacceptable."
Other city officials expressed their disgust over the cops' comments. From The New York Times:
"Disgusting," the city public advocate, Bill de Blasio, said.
"Reprehensible," said the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer.
"Racist," said the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz.
William C. Thompson, a candidate for mayor, said he hoped the comments would turn out not to have been by actual police officers. "If they are, it's disgraceful," he said. Indeed, it is difficult to prove that those calling themselves officers were so, or using real names, though The Times did match many names with those of officers.
"I don't believe there is a clear message coming from the top that this behavior is unacceptable," Letitia James, a Brooklyn council member, said Monday.
If you haven't seen the hate-filled comments, here's a sampling:
One commenter referred to working the parade detail as "ghetto training," while another recommended relocating the parade "to the zoo."
The safety of cops should be more important that the safety of "the animals," said one.
"It's not racist if it's true," declared another.
"Welcome to the Liberal NYC Gale, where if the cops sneeze too loud they get investigated for excessive force but the 'civilians' can run around like savages and there are no repercussions," one person opined.
"Why is everyone calling this a parade," a group member asked. "It's a scheduled riot."
Another suggested, "I say have the parade one more year, and when they all gather drop a bomb and wipe them all out."
The Facebook group described itself as a meeting place for "NYPD officers who are threatened by superiors and forced to be victims themselves by the violence of the West Indian Day massacre" and was created in September, just after the parade (which was particularly violent this year). It wasn't until November, however, that the group was discovered.
Lawyers Benjamin Moore and Paul Lieberman found the Facebook rants in their defense of Tyrone Johnson, who was arrested hours before the parade and acquitted of the gun charges last month. While doing an online search, Moore and Lieberman discovered that Johnson's arresting officer, Sergeant Dustin Edwards, belonged to the group.