San Francisco police officers’ homophobic and racist text messages revealed

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A corruption trial has reveled a string of homophobic and racist texts sent between five officers in San Francisco.

Former police officer Ian Furminger was recently sentenced to 41 months in prison for corruption charges. In a motion refusing him bail, the US Attorney’s office released a selection of text messages sent between officers that use racist and homophobic language.

Furminger and four other officers, whose names have not been made public, used offensive language and racial slurs to refer to African Americans, Mexicans and other ethnic groups, and homophobic slurs such as “fag” and “homo”. Many of the messages, including those sent by police officers who are still employed by San Francisco police, threaten violence towards black people.

Furminger sent messages such as: “I love calling you a fag!”, “You are a total homo! And your [sic] gay!” and “Busted up but thats what happens to fags!”

San Francisco are now reviewing over 1000 prosecutions involving the officers, to determine if they were compromised by bias. Disctict Attorney George Gascon said in a statement: “In order to ensure our criminal justice system is fair and equitable, my office is conducting an immediate assessment of every prosecution within the past ten years where these officers were involved.”

Many people, including Mayor Edwin Lee and Police Chief Greg Sur, have called for the officers to be fired. They are currently assigned only to duties that do not have direct involvement with the public.

Sgt. Yulanda Williams, president of the Officers for Justice police union, which represents minority police officers, told the LA Times: “It’s disgusting that in 2015 in San Francisco we would have officers that engage in such hateful despicable text messages.

“No matter how big or small the number is, this has managed to bring such hostilities and racism and Ku Klux Klan ideology up to the surface, to the point where all officers feel uncomfortable in our work environments now. They’re fearing the unknown.”

Public defender Jeff Adachi said the police department needed to commit to ending racist and homophobic bias among officers. He said: “Police possess tremendous power – they decide who to stop, question and arrest and bring to jail. We have to look at these cases and how they were affected.”