Police in Bridgeport, Connecticut are investigating a racist letter received by the department, which they believe may have been written by a Bridgeport police officer.
The letter was found in department internal mailboxes, in an area where only police officers have access, and it was written on department letterhead. The letter begins and ends with the words “WHITE POWER.”
The writer appears to be upset over the outcome of a 2011 police brutality case, in which two officers, Elson Morales, and Joseph Lawlor, pleaded guilty last June. They were recently sentenced to three months in prison in the case where they were caught on video beating a suspect after he had been shot with a stun gun. A third officer, Clive Higgins, who is black, pleaded not guilty, and was acquitted.
Higgins is threatened directly in the letter, which says,
Officer Clive Higgins doesn’t belong here in this Police Department.
These Black Officers belong in the toilet.
A little later the letter says, to Higgins,
You better watch your back.
We know where you live.
Remember you have no duty weapon to defend yourself.
The letter also claims to speak for department management, saying that the police chief, Joseph Gaudett, Jr., and the assistant chief, James Nardozzi, do not want Higgins, or other black officers, as part of the department.
The author leaves the impression that the main problem he has with Higgins is that Higgins did not come to court to support his fellow officers in their case. This is curious, since the two pleaded guilty. The writer also makes it clear that he is unhappy that Higgins continues to work for the department, while Morales and Lawlor lost their jobs.
Brett Broesder, Bridgeport’s communications director, tells WVIT, “Bottom line is that any discussion of discrimination within any part of the city is something we have a zero-tolerance policy on. If there is any wrongdoing found in the situation, swift, fair, immediate action will be taken.”
Curious words. “IF there is any wrongdoing?” How could there not be wrongdoing in a letter that appears to threaten a police officer?
Bridgeport Detective Harold Dimbo, a 27 year veteran of the department, says that the letter is creating a “hostile work environment.” Dimbo serves as the vice president of the Bridgeport Guardians, an association representing minority officers. “This type of behavior affects the minorities and spreads racism and hatred throughout the Bridgeport Police Department as well as the community,” Dimbo says.
The Bridgeport Guardians were scheduled to address the letter in a news conference.
When many Americans think of racism, they think of the south. But this incident shows that the country continues to struggle with racist sentiment throughout. This letter also serves to confirm the opinions expressed by FBI director James Comey last week, when he observed that many police officers are racially biased. But, Comey was referring to the way in which cops look differently at people of color when trying to decide who is and isn’t a suspect. This letter suggests that some cops even have a problem with fellow officers who aren’t white.
Here’s a report, from WVIT:
Image via screen capture from WVIT