Two white, undercover Louisiana narcotics cops – armed with chopped-up chalk as a crack cocaine stand-in – lined their faces in black make-up and hit the streets of a predominantly black neighborhood in Baton Rouge hoping to idiot drug patrons.
Now, amid nationwide scandals involving blackface, the Baton Rouge Police Division is apologizing for the ways used within the February 1993 “department-approved operation.” However two of the officers concerned within the 26-year-old program are standing by it.
The Louisiana operation got here to mild after photographs that includes a number of the cops in blackface in a police yearbook surfaced on-line.
“Blackface images are inappropriate and offensive. They had been inappropriate then and are inappropriate at the moment,” police Chief Murphy Paul, who’s black, mentioned in an announcement on Monday. “The Baton Rouge Police Division wish to apologize to our residents and to anybody who might have been offended by the pictures.”
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Within the picture, first revealed Saturday by native information website the Rouge Assortment, one of many cops is seen carrying blue denims with a denim jacket over a white hoodie and white baseball cap and is making an obvious gang signal. The opposite officer is carrying denim overalls with a yellow bandanna dangling from his pocket.
Each wore sun shades and appeared extraordinarily tan.
The caption on the picture reads, “The Soul Brothers.”
In an article by the Advocate newspaper in 1993 – the identical 12 months of the blackface operation – then-Det. Frankie Caruso mentioned the shortage of variety throughout the division performed an enormous function as to why the division authorized the operation.
He mentioned the division’s two black narcotics officers had been too “well-known” within the space, which is why his spouse made him and his white accomplice, recognized as Lt. Don Stone, look black, the Washington Put up reported.
“Not solely do they not know we’re cops — they don’t even know we’re white!” Caruso informed the newspaper on the time.
Caruso and then-police Chief Greg Phares, defended their ways, telling the Advocate on Monday that it was solely accomplished with the intent to get medicine off the road, and to not degrade or make enjoyable of black folks.
“I’ve no downside in any way with that these officers did,” mentioned Phares, who at present serves as chief deputy on the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Workplace. “For anybody to attempt to make this some form of racial concern 20 years or extra later is simply past ridiculous.”
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East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome mentioned in an announcement, in line with the Advocate, that whereas it was a department-approved undercover operation greater than 25 years in the past, it “doesn’t make it proper.”
“Blackface is greater than only a costume,” she wrote. “It invokes a painful historical past on this nation and it isn’t acceptable in any scenario.”
Paul mentioned there might be no administrative ramification in opposition to Stone, who remains to be employed with the division, due to a statute of limitation on inner officer investigations.
He did say, nevertheless, there are actually insurance policies in place to forestall officers from participating in such practices.
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This blackface scandal is the most recent to hit the nationwide radar over the past month after rampant shows of blackface by leaders in Virginia and Florida have been not too long ago rediscovered in college yearbooks relationship again a long time.