A Muslim police officer went public with allegations of racism in the San Francisco Police Department on Tuesday, claiming that officers joked about him being a terrorist at a time when department brass were touting police reform.
The officer, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, filed a formal complaint with The City in January detailing “blatant racism and bigotry” he had witnessed at Central Police Station since last summer.
Those experiences ranged from the being asked whether he knew any “towel heads,” to having an ISIS flag drawn on his locker near the words “go back.” The officer is of Afghan descent.
“I would appreciate it if you tell me the plans of your terrorist network so I can plan in advance,” the whistleblower said an officer told him in July or August 2017. “When your family members come out here as an active shooter or ram a car, I’d appreciate it if you give me a heads up so I can put them down gently.”
The officer decided to make his claims public after allegedly facing retaliation for complaining to SFPD Internal Affairs last November and losing faith in the process. The officer said Internal Affairs investigators shared confidential information he brought to them with those he accused of harassment.
“Since making a complaint, I have been labeled a rat, singled out by my colleagues, and I now fear for my safety,” he said. “I also want to change the department’s long, documented history of intimidating whistleblowers.”
The officer is not the first to allege retaliation. Last October, Officer Joel Babbs sued San Francisco after he was arrested for vehicle registration fraud and filing a false police report, allegedly in retaliation for complaining about racism in the department. The charges were later dropped.
In 2015, San Francisco settled for $725,000 with former Internal Affairs attorney Kelly O’Haire over claims that then-police Chief Greg Suhr fired her in 2011 for investigating allegations of misconduct against him.
In the latest case, the officer decided to make his allegations through Public Defender Jeff Adachi instead of filing a lawsuit.
In his complaint to the Department of Human resources, the officer’s proposed remedy was that the officers involved receive cultural sensitivity training and that the SFPD academy teach Middle Eastern cultural studies.
The SFPD responded to the allegations in a statement, saying that they are being taken “very seriously.” Three investigations into the claims by the SFPD and Department of Human Resources are currently ongoing.
“SFPD will thoroughly investigate all alleged misconduct uncovered during these investigations which implicates any member of this department,” the statement reads.
The allegations echo the racist text scandal that the SFPD faced in 2015, when a federal court case revealed that a group of officers had sent bigoted and homophobic text messages to each other.
In light of the texts and the police shooting of Mario Woods, the U.S. Department of Justice issued 272 recommendations for reform for the SFPD. The department is currently working on the reforms with guidance from the state DOJ.
But Adachi said the new allegations show that the SFPD is “still beset by deeply ingrained bias.”
“In order to eliminate racism in the ranks, police culture must rid itself of its ‘no snitching’ ethos,” Adachi said in a statement. “Fear of speaking out due to retaliation has been an enormous barrier to real reform in San Francisco.”
Former Officers for Justice head Lt. Yulanda Williams, who herself has been called out for speaking out against the racist text messages, said she was not surprised by the latest allegations.
“This is getting ridiculous,” Williams said. “We brought in a new chief to counteract this, and especially to have zero tolerance for this type of conduct. If it’s still occurring, then we have not made the reforms that we claim that we are supposed to be about.”
San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran did not respond to a request for comment, but said in a letter to members that “the POA is proud of the strong work ethics, tolerance, and diversity of our department.”
The officer’s complaint also alleges:
*An officer took him to a strip club in North Beach while on duty “in a deliberate attempt to embarrass me.”
*An officer lifted his bag, commented on it being heavy and told him to “leave your additional equipment, RPGs, and grenades at home.”
*An officer asked if he heard a “tick tick” coming from his bag.
*An officer supported President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and said, “Why do we have them here? Get them all out.”
*An officer said, “so you guys believe when you die you get 72 virgins, but you have to detonate yourself. But you can’t do that and still be a cop.”
*An officer called him a “sandn—-r” about four times.
*An officer said, “I want to get guns, and the only people who have guns are blacks and hispanics. The department doesn’t like us to make judgements like that, but if I see a black person behind the wheel of the vehicle, I’ll pull the car over and figure out my probable cause later.”
*An officer said, “Did you see that f—–g monkey,” referencing a black person
*An officer said “f——g f—-t” at least five times