A top Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official forwarded emails with jokes containing derogatory stereotypes of Muslims, blacks, Latinos, women and others from his work account during his previous job with the Burbank Police Department.
Tom Angel, Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s chief of staff, sent the emails in 2012 and 2013 when he was the No. 2 police official in Burbank, hired to reform a department reeling from allegations of police brutality, racism and sexual harassment, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday, citing city records.
“I took my Biology exam last Friday,” said one of the forwarded emails obtained under the state’s public records law, according to the newspaper. “I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently ‘Blacks’ and ‘Mexicans’ were NOT the correct answers.”
Another email 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.”
Angel told The Times he did not mean to demean anyone and said it was unfortunate his work emails could be obtained under the state’s records laws. Asked about the “Biology exam” email making light of high incarceration rates in some minority communities, he described himself as Mexican.
“I apologize if I offended anybody, but the intent was not for the public to have seen these jokes,” he told the newspaper.
McDonnell told The Times he was disappointed by the emails but he had no immediate plans to discipline Angel even though “it’s a shame the whole thing happened at all.”
After viewing the emails at the request of The Times, local Muslim civil rights advocates criticized Angel, saying the messages perpetuate dangerous biases that all Muslims are terrorists.
In a meeting with McDonnell and Angel on Monday, Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, sought assurances that sheriff’s officials are not unfairly targeting Muslim communities. Angel should be disciplined and the Sheriff’s Department should meet with community groups and hold cultural awareness seminars for its staff, Al-Marayati said, according to The Times.
—City News Service