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4 police officers in San Jose put on leave over racist, anti-Muslim Facebook posts

The mayor of San Jose, California, said he expects "that racist, anti-Muslim or menacing comments expressed by any current SJPD Officer will be met with termination."
Image: San Jose Police
Police form a line after clearing the plaza outside City Hall of protesters in violation of an 8:30pm curfew in San Jose, Calif., on June, 2, 2020.Anda Chu / MediaNews Group via Getty Images file

Four police officers in San Jose, California, have been placed on leave while the department says it is investigating alleged racist and anti-Muslim posts on Facebook.

The investigation apparently grew out of a blog post Friday on Medium by an anonymous author who claims to be "the partner of an active law enforcement officer in a San Francisco Bay Area police department."

The Medium article includes screenshots of alleged posts by active and retired San Jose officers, including some that the author says were posted to a private Facebook group of both retired and current officers in the city.

Links to posts with screenshots in the article appeared to be broken as of late Saturday afternoon.

The screenshots include an alleged post by a retired officer who lambastes Black Lives Matter protesters as “racist idiots,” “un-American” and “enemies.” Another screenshot, allegedly of a post by a current officer in San Jose, says, “Black lives don’t really matter.”

The article also includes screenshots of anti-Muslim posts allegedly made in the private Facebook group, including one comment saying, “I say re-purpose the hijabs into nooses.”

Officer Gina Tepoorten, a spokesperson for the San Jose Police Department, said an administrative probe into the comments is underway, and "four of our officers have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted."

The FBI has been asked to assist in the probe, Tepoorten said.

Asked why the department has not identified the officers put on leave, she said, "The department is conducting an Internal Affairs investigation and therefore we cannot comment on personnel matters."

Police Chief Eddie Garcia said in a statement, “While I have no control over what former employees post online, I can voice my outrage after hearing about these comments made online."

"Any current employee involved with bigoted activity online will promptly be investigated and held accountable to the fullest extent in my power. We have no place for this," Garcia said.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said he is demanding a full investigation into the incident and expects "that racist, anti-Muslim or menacing comments expressed by any current SJPD Officer will be met with termination."

Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officers' Association, issued a video statement Friday night.

"I want to be crystal clear. There is no place in our police department or our union for racists or bigots or for those who enable them by not speaking up when you see those types of behaviors," he said. "And I say this to anyone who participated, the San Jose Police Officers' Association will provide you no shelter, no protection. We will not represent you because you do not represent us."

Kelly said the union would file charges to expel any officers from the union found to be involved.