NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Following the announcement of an internal investigation at the Norman Police Department, the NAACP is calling for another full investigation of the agency.
On May 5, an email was sent to Norman police officers, notifying them about custom-printed masks that were available.
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.
At that point, Foster says one officer, Jacob McDonough, sent an image of people in white hoods carrying torches from ‘Django Unchained.’
In the movie scene, the mob is complaining about the fit of the masks they are wearing.
Within a matter of minutes, other department members questioned the appropriateness of the image and the officer apologized.
A lieutenant immediately responded, telling McDonough it 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.”
The officer said the image was not intended to be about race, but rather a reference to the struggles of wearing a mask.
Norman Police Chief Kevin Foster says when he received the message, he immediately sent it to the internal affairs department.
“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.”
Officials say the officer is still working at this time and has been with the department since February of 2018.
However, the advisory board is considering disciplinary action that may include termination.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced that it was calling for an independent and unbiased investigation into the Norman Police Department.
Following the recent email, officials with Oklahoma’s NAACP chapter say they want a full investigation into the Norman Police Department and the officer’s arrest record of minorities in the community.
The NAACP says up until the 1960s, Norman was known for being a ‘Sundown Town.’
Earlier this year, the Norman City Council passed a unanimous proclamation to publicly condemn and apologize for that history.
The ACLU of Oklahoma released the following statement regarding the incident:
“We strongly condemn Norman Police Officer Jacob McDonough’s actions referencing KKK members wearing hoods and holding flame torches while referring to the type of mask he would prefer to wear. We affirm our solidarity and stand in support of those individuals and communities affected by these hateful acts, and join in the call with our partners at the Oklahoma State Conference NAACP for an independent investigation in the Norman Police Department and a review of the officer’s history with marginalized communities.
While our organization defends the First Amendment, we also recognize the power of speech, especially speech that implies the official power of the state, comes with consequences that are harmful and traumatizing. The ACLU of Oklahoma stands firm in its belief that equality and justice will only be achieved if society looks racism and bigotry squarely in the eyes and rejects it.
Our state is no stranger to the kind of devastating headlines about fatal police interactions and over-incarceration of our Black and Brown communities. The fact that police abuse remains a significant problem demands the attention of an independent investigation.
To our communities that feel unsafe as a result of these actions and the everyday struggle to trust those in power–we are here for you and will continue our fight to protect civil liberties for all.”