The President of St. Louis Ethical Society of Police demanded that St. Louis police officers be fired after the Plain View Project published its review of social media posts by a number of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) officers with racist or bigoted content.
“The officers should be fired,” said Sgt. Heather Taylor, president of the Ethical Society of Police, which advocates for equity in police work.
“The posts were racist, vile, and steeped in violent ideologies. Many of the officer posts demonstrated views similar to white nationalists and the KKK. That thought process has no business within SLMPD. The officers involved have clearly shown they can’t protect and serve the community they are supposed to serve. No action other than termination is appropriate.”
The action the department has taken was to launch an investigation by its Internal Affairs Division. Mayor Lyda Krewson and SLMPD provided statements to that effect but did consent to interviews with The American.
“These posts are disturbing and unacceptable,” Krewson stated. “We expect professionalism out of every City employee. No exceptions. Last year the city adopted a social media policy to ensure accountability and to leave no doubt that such posts are unacceptable.”
Published June 1 on Buzzfeed, The Plain View Project’s report examined social media posts by police officers from eight departments across the country, including SLMPD. The database flagged 416 instances where police officers in St. Louis displayed racist activities that undermine their ability to serve and protect minority communities.
According to Buzzfeed, the database was created by Emily Baker-White to examine and compile troubling racist imagery and memes and other public activity that displayed bigoted views.
Thomas Mabrey, a St. Louis police officer, shared a false news report about an incident titled “Muslim man calls the police and waits to Ambush them… Kills woman police officer. Where is the Media,” according to the Plain View Project.
Mabrey responded, “F these muslem turd goat humpers. Oh, but we must help them. Yea right when it’s ok to rape and murder in a religion o ain’t helping no one.”
This is one of 74 posts by Mabrey that displayed racist or bigoted views. A few days after a scheduled police accountability protest on July 9, 2016 in downtown St. Louis, Mabrey posted a meme that showed a trucker beaten by rioters. The meme refers to Reginald Denny, a trucker who was nearly beaten to death by rioters in Los Angeles in 1992. The meme said, “Remember Reginald Denny. He stopped when ‘protesters’ were blocking the road.”
Another post by Mabrey targeted the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it a hate group that is the same as the KKK.
Another St. Louis police officer, Ronald E. Hasty, who goes by the alias “Ron Nighthawk” on Facebook, was flagged 31 times by the database. In one instance, Hasty shared a post that encouraged “kettling” of protesters in St. Louis. The author wrote, “I loved seeing this and I don’t care if people were roughed up. When the police tell you to do something u do it. “It’s called respecting authority. U play u pay. Bottom line.”
State Sen. Karla May (D-St. Louis) spoke about the discriminatory social media posts at a Monday, June 3 press conference dedicated to the Missouri attorney general’s new report on vehicle stop disparities.
“Police officers that are making racially discriminatory remarks on Facebook and social media, I’m asking you, police officers, all over the state, are you willing to clean your ranks and balance the scale of justice for those who trusted you to protect and serve?” she asked.
“That’s my ask as a senator. Because if you’re not willing to do something about it, I am.”
Francene Bethune is a St. Louis American editorial intern provided by the Emma Bowen Foundation, which recruits promising students of color and places them in multi-year paid internships at some of the nation's leading media, PR and technology companies.