NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) — An internal investigation at the Norman Police Department is underway after an officer used a racist meme in an email thread.
“We were alerted about this email by our source late last week,” Ashley McCray, with Norman Citizens for Racial Justice, told KFOR.
McCray is talking about an email thread between Norman police officers back on May 5.
“After reviewing the content of the actual email, we realized that it is actually a racist incident,” McCray said.
It started with a message about custom-printed masks available for the officers.
Norman Police Chief Kevin Foster says several officers were discussing in an email thread the difficulties they had experienced wearing facial coverings in the field.
Officer Jacob McDonough responded with a meme from the movie ‘Django Unchained’ where the characters are seen in KKK masked-hoods preparing for a lynching.
A lieutenant immediately responded, telling McDonough this was “MORE than inappropriate.”
McDonough replied, saying “Sir I would like to apologize.” He went on to say he was pulling from “the satiracle (sic) humor related to the movie” saying he “did not mean to disrespect anyone.”
McDonough’s supervisor, Chad Vincent, also replied, saying in part, “Maybe in the future let’s hold off on sending out this type of email. Many times our night shift humor is misunderstood by those outside of our division :)”
“He was very blasé and dismissive,” McCray said. “So honestly, that raises even more flags for us as a citizen advisory or alert group.”
That’s why the group published an article about it and released the emails in The Black Wall Street Times Monday night.
Shortly after that, Norman police announced an internal investigation in a press release.
On Tuesday morning, Chief Foster called a press conference to address the incident.
“I was very offended and couldn’t believe an officer had sent that out,” Chief Foster said. “We will be looking at some disciplinary action depending upon on what comes in the investigation, if there’s any more things like this in his other emails or other things he has done.”
He said termination is possible.
Norman Mayor Breea Clark sent KFOR this statement, saying, “I was notified about the email thread on May 6 and I notified the City Manager the same day, but he had already been made aware by the Chief of Police that a formal investigation had begun. I was very pleased to see how quickly Chief Foster acted.”
“We feel like kind of honestly upset that Mayor Clark has been sitting on this knowledge and probably wasn’t going to do anything if we didn’t make such big noise about this,” McCray said.
Mayor Clark has called for a special Norman Citizens Advisory Board meeting to discuss the incident.
She said she will host a listening session for the community once that happens.
The Norman Citizens for Racial Justice group is calling for the Norman PD to implement ongoing implicit bias training for all new and current officers.
Chief Foster said that is being discussed.