Friday, July 31, 2009

Boston cop calls Gates 'banana-eating jungle monkey' in mass e-mail

A Fox affiliate reports that the Massachusetts National Guard began probing the racist email sent by Capt. Justin Barrett, a Boston cop, a week ago.

"After a preliminary investigation, Capt. Barrett was suspended from his military duties on July 25, 2009 pending the outcome of further investigation," Boston's FOX25 reports.

The report adds that the "language contained in the e-mail violates policies of the Massachusetts National Guard and what it stands for in its commitment to uphold and protect the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Constitution of the United States."

The officer apologized last night for the email, claiming, "I am not a racist."

"It was a poor choice of words. I did not mean to offend anyone," Barrett told NewsCenter 5. "The words were being used to characterize behavior not describe anyone."

The officer said that he didn't mean to use words like 'banana eating jungle monkey' "in a racist way."

"It was a poor choice of words," Barrett said. I didn't mean it in a racist way. I treat everyone with dignity and respect.".

More from WCVB's report:

Barrett and his attorney said they will fight the charges brought both by the police department and the National Guard.

"People are making it about race. It is not about race," Barrett claimed.

Barrett will get only pro forma support from the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association which condemned the e-mail, but said it is contractually obligated to protect his rights at a disciplinary hearing.


The Fox affiliate in Boston has published the text of the email Boston police officer Justin Barrett sent in which he referred to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., as a "banana-eating jungle monkey."

It now appears Barrett's email was a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, complaining of the Globe's coverage of the Gates arrest on July 16.

Of Gates, Barrett wrote: "He is a suspect and will always be a suspect."

"If I was the officer [Gates] verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC [pepper spray] deserving of his belligerent non-compliance."

Barrett then went on to berate the author of the Globe article to which he objected.

"You are a hot little bird with minimal experiences in a harsh field," Barrett wrote. "You are a fool. An infidel. You have no business writing for a US newspaper nevermind detailing and analyzing half-truths."

AP reported that "Barrett was trained in racial profiling prevention and had shown no signs of racial discrimination in the past."

Barrett's tirade has spawned an instant flurry of comments on blogs and talk shows.

"If this is what [police officers are] putting in emails, imagine what they're saying in private," blogged The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan.


The police officer who called Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a "jungle monkey" is a "cancer on the department," Boston Mayor Tom Menino said Wednesday.

A blog posting by Cindy Adams at also says Menino called for the officer to be fired immediately.

The Boston Globe reports that Barrett will be represented by the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, the local police union. The union is expected to make a statement on the case Wednesday evening.

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