California policemen investigated for suggesting lynching Muslim woman

28th Aug 2020

Elham Asaad Buaras

Four police officers in California have been placed on leave while officials with the help of the FBI investigate a private Facebook group in which members made disturbing comments about assaulting and hanging a Muslim woman.

The Facebook group called 10-7ODSJ (code for off- duty officers) was the subject of a blog posted on June 26 to Medium.com.

The author published screenshots of Facebook posts in which retired and active San José police officers commented about Jennifer Hyatt, a Muslim woman who is suing the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, for forcibly removing her hijab.

One suggested pulling the hijab over the woman’s face, and another suggested using hijabs as nooses.

Member also called Black Lives Matter activists “domestic enemies.” The writer, a retired San José police sergeant, sought anonymity, citing concern for his or her safety.

Speaking to the East Bay Times he said, “I recognized some of the names. Is this the entire police department? No, it’s not. But within the entire police department, people know about it.”

The author said his post was motivated in part by allegations that a similar Facebook group plotted violence against Shaun King, a Black Lives Matter movement activist.

Zahra Billoo, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area, said that sort of Islamophobic sentiment is “even more terrifying” coming from police officers.

She asked, “How are we supposed to be able to call on these officers to protect our community when this is what they say when they feel as though they are around their peers?”

Adding, “I worry that this is not just a few bad officers and this is not just a few bad posts. I’m concerned that other officers knew about these posts and looked the other way.”

Police Chief Eddie Garcia said he asked the FBI to assist in the investigation. Mayor Sam Liccardo said he expected any officer who made “racist, anti-Muslim or menacing comments” to be fired.

Liccardo expressed frustration that a white officer who was fired in 2016 for tweets criticizing Black Lives Matter demonstrations returned to the job after an independent arbitrator reversed the termination and forced the department to reinstate the officer.

“I will push for changes to a disciplinary process that allows unaccountable arbitrators to reverse termination decisions of the chief, and I will further push for an independent investigation of all racially discriminatory conduct,” he said.

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