Race in America

Norman Police Officer uses Ku Klux Klan imagery to criticize city’s mask policy

Published 05/18/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 20 sec 

OKLAHOMA — Emails from the Norman Police Department earlier this month revealed some officers on the force are resisting the city’s PPE policy for police officers.

On May 5, an email was sent to all officers notifying them that custom-printed face masks were available. Instructions for proper usage and washing were included. Some officers questioned the policy. Some complained about discomfort, the effects of washing, and whether or not it was permissible to make modifications.

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However, one officer, Jacob McDonough, made his point differently.

In response to the department-wide email, Officer McDonough replied with the following meme featuring men dressed in Klan masks, carrying weapons and torches in preparation for a lynching.

The image posted in McDonough’s email is a meme created from the Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained. The text is from the film’s dialogue. 

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Senior officer Lieutenant Lee McWhorter responded to the email saying, “McDonough, I really hope you didn’t mean that the way it looks because that’s more than inappropriate. I’d say this is a fantastic time to stop this email thread and if you have an issue to contact your direct supervisor.” 

McWhorter later went on to remind McDonough that all officer’s emails are public record.

After being informally reprimanded on the email thread, Officer McDonough offered an apology but defended his reply as “satirical humor” (sic).

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A City of Norman employee confirmed Friday, May 15 that McDonough’s actions were currently the subject of an internal investigation, however Public Information Officer, Sarah Jensen did not respond to inquiries concerning the status of that investigation.

The Ku Klux Klan has a long, well-documented history of ties to law enforcement which persists into the present day. In 2010, three officers in the town of Fruitland Park, Florida were forced to resign following the revelation of their Klan ties.

The City of Norman has its own shameful struggles with racism which persist into the present day. It wasn’t until December 2017, following 30 years of lobbying, that a street named after a former Grand Wizard of the KKK, Edwin Debarr, was finally changed.

In January 2018, a 34-year-old homeless man Marconia Kessee was refused treatment at Norman Regional Hospital and removed from the premises on a trespassing complaint. A video of Norman police officers Kyle Canaan and Daniel Brown taunting Kessee and dragging him to their squad car went viral and provoked outrage nationally and within the Norman community.

Kessee died in custody at the Cleveland County Jail. In January 2019, Kessee’s family filed suit seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Less than a month later, the case was removed to federal court, where it remains.

 

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