dot dot dot.

UPDATE: The e-mail.

From the Boston Herald, via the Root:

A Boston police officer allegedly sent a mass e-mail using a disgraceful racial slur in referring to Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., prompting the commissioner to move immediately to fire the cop, the Herald has learned.

Officer Justin Barrett, 36, a two-year veteran assigned to District B-3, was placed on administrative leave pending a termination hearing yesterday afternoon. When a supervisor confronted Barrett about the e-mail – in which he called Gates a “jungle monkey” – he admitted to being the author, according to officials.

Police Commissioner Edward Davis immediately stripped the cop of his gun and badge, according to officials. Barrett, who could not immediately be reached, has no prior disciplinary history.

Barrett is also a member of the National Guard, a source said, and the e-mail was sent anonymously to his fellow guard members and the Boston Globe. It was unclear whether the scurrilous missive was sent to members of Boston police as well.

“There is no room on the department for someone who uses those words,” said Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll, who declined to provide the specific text of the letter.


Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs and reports on race and ethnicity for NPR's Code Switch team.
  • Leigh

    OMG I cannot take this story much longer. Living up here in Boston, I can assure you that coverage of this case will not end. And now sh*t like this (of which there are a multitude of examples, I am sure) to keep it in the news. Meanwhile, Gates and Crowley will be drinking at the White House tomorrow night and morons and bigots and the lowly well-intentioned and our media enablers all will continue to discuss this and go over and over and over this and I’m just not sure what we’re learning from it, anymore, if we ever were.

    That it’s unfolding in Boston which is always the public’s favorite example of Northern Racism (It’s not just the South! EleventyOne!) leaves me as an original Masshole sad and disappointed and frustrated to no end.

    That Gates and Crowley and even maybe Obama will end up making a range of fatuous or passive aggressive or conciliatory statements on this whole episode, while it continues to fester at the lower echelons of society is beyond annoying.

    Good on Davis for firing that asshole; we’ve got too many dudez like that up here. But can’t we have some sort of system-wide come to jesus about the whole thing?

    Christ. (Apologies for my cursing)

  • shani-o

    Hmm, based on Sotomayor’s Pappas dissent (link), doesn’t this guy have a right to say what he wants to whomever he wants?

  • Winslowalrob

    Yay they fired the guy! Reprecussions for stupidity are all I ask for.

  • mute

    I’m suprised Boston cops don’t have their own so they can spit their racism anonymously.

  • ladyfresh

    nice action on the quick firing

  • K.

    Racial slur aside, that whole email was bizarre and indicative of mental instability.

  • shani-o

    I couldn’t stop laughing at “warm cruller and hot panamanian, black.”

  • Chris R

    This guy continues to say he’s not racist yet continues to say these horrible things.

    What kind of a man would have black friends (as he say’s) and continue making comments like this?

  • Leigh

    I just did a dramatic reading of the email for my fiance who hasn’t had a chance to read it. I’m no Shattner, but seriously, re-reading it again – that guy is seriously unhinged. It’s unbelievable. Racist slurs, tell this woman to get him some coffee, talking about freedom and taxes and our borders (total Palin supporter, btw), it’s nonsensical and beyond bizarre. I’m really not pleased that this guy is going to be out and about after being fired; he needs to go to a mental health facility, not back onto the streets or into the Guard, etc.

  • Leigh

    Yeah, it’s these kind of write-off-an-entire-group/region that I’m talking about.

  • mute

    Didn’t mean to offend. I’m not completely writing off any place or group. The comment wasn’t all that serious.

  • Leigh

    I know it’s not serious, it’s hard not to make those cracks, I get that. But here we go again, is all I can think…how long til someone brings up busing?

    Obviously Boston (we) has (have) to own its (our) history. But it’s so easy to just fall back on tired stereotypes. My fiance told me this story when he was taking a class here at MIT on Boston’s Neighborhoods, which deals a lot with the different immigrant histories of the city. Mel King came to speak; he’s a big deal, as you may know – former Mayoral candidate, long-time community activist, etc. Black American of Caribbean descent:

    Anyway, he comes to tell a fairly nuanced story about Boston’s rich immigrant and ethnic and racial history and struggles, etc., and all the kids in the class (from all over the US and world) are like, “tell us about the Black-Irish conflict! Yeah!”

  • mute

    while I did refer to “Boston cops” in my comment, fwiw my reply had less to do with my impressions of your town and more to do with my surprise that this happened. It still always amazes/amuses me when I hear stories about folks who express their racism en masse through email and then get caught by coworkers and /or employers. I guess I wonder how in this day and age people aren’t “smarter” with their bigotry online. “Smarter” like some of the good folks of the Philly PD (well, until other officers and the press got wind I guess).

    if we had been talking about another town’s cops, i would have made reference to them.

    I see your response is more about Boston’s overall image and I guess not my original thoughts, but I just wanted to clarify.

    that being said, I now want to know more about black-irish conflicts.

  • ladyfresh

    wait wait i’m back

    How does someone pride themselves on their former english teaching profession then use AX for ask in a sentence.

  • G.D.

    right. if that’s an indication of the way his mind normally works, you gotta wonder how he passed the department’s psych exam (or the Nat. Guard’s, for that matter).

  • Leigh

    Yeah, WOW. “hot little bird”? “infidel.” and all the rest. It’s actually pretty unsettling to read, knowing this guy was patrolling the streets up here. Btw, he was a cop in Mattapan, which is 77% black, incl. African-American and foreign-born. I’m totally ashamed of my hometown right now.

  • Leigh

    I don’t much about BPD, but aren’t the Armed Forces letting a lot of questionable folks in, given they’re so overstretched?

  • ladyfresh

    yep there was a article on about how lax they have gotten because of low recruitment
    didnt occur to me that the same thing would happen locally

  • Leigh

    All I could think of was the unibomber writing his screeds in his little hut. I’m having a terrible period of worst-case scenario thinking these days, and all I could think was, this guy’s going to get fired and then go shoot up some public place or his family.

  • Steve

    Yea but in Pappas his conduct had nothing to do with police work/cases/etc. .. random racist mailings.

    that’s usually where the line is drawn.

    Besides Pappas lost LOL..

  • Steve

    No one wants to be a cop or military so the requirements are lax nowadays