A new Los Angeles Times report unearths a series of racist emails sent and forwarded by Tom Angel, a top Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department official. According to documents obtained by the Times, Angel emailed a series of messages to staff containing jokes about black people, Muslims, and women.
Angel, the chief of staff for Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, sent the emails in 2012 and 2013 while he worked as the second top official for the Burbank Police Department. Ironically, the Times notes, Angel had been "hired to reform a department reeling from allegations of police brutality as well as racism and sexual harassment within its ranks."
The Times obtained the emails after filing a request for them under the state's public records law. He told the paper he "did not mean to embarrass or demean anyone" in the messages. From the Times:
Another email ridiculed concerns about the racial profiling of Muslims as terrorism suspects. A third included the subject line, "How dumb is dumb?" and listed 20 reasons "Muslim Terrorists are so quick to commit suicide," including "Towels for hats," "Constant wailing from some idiot in a tower" and "You can't wash off the smell of donkey."
"Anybody in the workplace unfortunately forwards emails from time to time that they probably shouldn't have forwarded," Angel told the Times. "I apologize if I offended anybody, but the intent was not for the public to have seen these jokes."
Most of the emails obtained by the Times were forwarded messages. One forward reads, in part, "I took my Biology exam last Friday. I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently, 'Blacks' and 'Mexicans' were NOT the correct answers."
When asked about the joke, Angel told The Times he was Mexican.
McDonnell said he has "no immediate plans to discipline" Angel.
"Everybody's got their own take on humor. This was divisive and nonproductive," McDonnell told the Times. "It's a shame the whole thing happened at all."
The Times' report follows the release of 14 pages of racist emails traded between government and police officials in Ferguson, Mo., obtained by the Guardian last year following the shooting of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson. In one email, President Obama is compared to a chimpanzee.
And in nearby San Francisco, the police department is currently dealing with a racist texting scandal. Texts with racial slurs against black people by Officer Jason Lai were obtained by CNN yesterday; Lai is no longer with the department.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.