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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/8/15

Bullwhips Crackin' in Northern California

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Reprinted from Reader Supported News

'The tradition of violent racists infiltrating American police agencies has a rich history.'
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There is a scandal involving a major urban American police department that is going almost entirely ignored.

San Francisco evokes images of hippies, gay tolerance, and world class dining. It is viewed as the most liberal major American city. But there is another, darker side to San Francisco and the region that surrounds it.

It began with a federal investigation into allegations of corruption. Ultimately San Francisco police officers would be charged with stealing cash and other property from a wide range of suspects. One of the officers charged, Reynaldo Vargas, would later testify, "If I saw something I wanted, I took it."

Vargas and other officers would also implicate a colleague who would emerge as a central player and focus of the investigation and subsequent trail: Sergeant Ian Furminger.

Furminger and Officer Edmond Robles were both convicted of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit theft, theft of more than $5,000 worth of property from a federally funded program, and another charge -- conspiracy against civil rights.

From all appearances, it looked like a disturbing but otherwise fairly routine tale of cops gone bad in the big city. But there was another, far more explosive component contained in the evidence. Something that would put the entire department on trial.

As part of their investigation into corruption charges, the FBI had obtained copies of Furminger's phone records including, most notably, his text messages. What was contained in the messages made the corruption problems pale in comparison:

  • "We got two blacks at my boys [sic] school and they are brother and sister! There cause dad works for the school district and I am watching them like hawks."

  • In response to a text asking, "Do you celebrate quanza [sic] at your school?" Furminger wrote: "Yeah we burn the cross on the field! Then we celebrate Whitemas."

  • "Its [sic] worth every penny to live here [Walnut Creek] away from the savages."

  • "Those guys are pretty stupid! Ask some dumb ass questions you would expect from a black rookie! Sorry if they are your buddies!"

  • "The buffalo soldier was why the Indians Wouldnt [sic] shoot the niggers that found for the confederate They [sic] thought they were sacred buffalo and not human."

  • "Gunther Furminger was a famous slave auctioneer."

  • "My wife has 2 friends over that don't know each other the cool one says to me get me a drink n-word not knowing the other is married to one just happened right now LMFAO."

  • "White power."

  • In response to a text saying "Niggers should be spayed," Furminger wrote, "I saw one an hour ago with 4 kids."

  • "I am leaving it like it is, painting KKK on the sides and calling it a day!"

  • "Cross burning lowers blood pressure! I did the test myself!"

  • In response to a text saying "All niggers must f*cking hang," Furminger wrote, "Ask my 6 year old what he thinks about Obama."

  • In response to a text saying "Just boarded train at Mission/16th," Furminger wrote, "Ok, just watch out for BM's [black males]."

  • In response to a text from another SFPD officer regarding the promotion of a black officer to sergeant, Furminger wrote: "Fuckin n-word."

It's Not Against the Law to Put an Animal Down

There was yet another exchange: Furminger comments to another SFPD officer, "I hate to tell you this but my wife friend [sic] is over with their kids and her husband is black! If [sic] is an Attorney but should I be worried?" The other officer responds, "Get ur pocket gun. Keep it available in case the monkey returns to his roots. Its [sic] not against the law to put an animal down." To which Furminger responds, "Well said!"

The reality is that it really isn't against the law to put an animal, or a human being defined as an animal, down as long as it is the law doing it.

As Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson kept firing his gun time and time again at unarmed Michael Brown, who had his hands raised, did he see Michael as something more than an animal to be put down?

As NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo choked the life out of Eric Garner in the middle of a busy New York City street in front of countless witnesses, did he really believe that he was killing a human being?

As half the Police Department of the City of Cleveland, Ohio, defied the orders of their commanders chasing unarmed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, firing 137 shots at them and ultimately executing them at point-blank range, surely they could not have seen Russell and Williams as human beings.

As 12-year-old Tamir Rice lay dying on the snow-covered playground, the officer who had just shot him and his partner refused to allow Tamir's mother and sister come to him. They threatened Tamir's mother, Samaria, with arrest and literally tackled 14-year-old Tajai to prevent her from getting to her dying brother's side. The same remorse, the same concern, the same dignity they would have afforded an animal.

Jessie Hernandez was a beautiful17-year-old lesbian, hispanic girl. She was also joy-riding in a stolen car. Although no evidence exists to support their claims, the Denver police say that they feared for their lives and that is why they shot Jessie through the heart, both lungs, her liver, her pelvis, and her leg. As her body struggled for life, the police dragged her unconscious from the car, threw her face down on the ground, and handcuffed her. She was unarmed. An animal they had just put down.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News:

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