Cop's Racist Post Wasn't Shocking, What Happened to Him Afterwards is Surprising

The assistant police chief of Estherwood, Louisiana, was recently forced to resign in disgrace after a racist Facebook post became public knowledge. His firing is one of many related to racist texts or emails from law enforcement officers, as police departments try to get a handle on racism in their ranks.

Wayne Welsh reportedly put up a post on Monday, sharing an old-fashioned style picture of a white woman pushing a little girl's head underwater in a bathtub, with the following caption, “When your daughters [sic] first crush is a little Negro boy." Welsh's Facebook account (which appears to have been deleted) was public, and the post quickly made its way to social media.

Once outed as having made the post, Welsh defended it with a series of increasingly aggrieved justifications, according to local station KATC, which documented the posts before Welsh deleted his account. He wrote on Facebook: "It's not against the law to share something on Facebook. It's social media. Internet," following up with, "I shared somebody else's posts and everybody mad at me again. So [sic] Facebook police mad at me." Then he went on to write, "people always want to play the. Race Card. [sic] They want you to think your [sic] the bad guy."

Finally, he appeared to "apologize" for the post, writing "well, I posted something on Facebook that made a lot of people mad. Well, I'm sorry for what happen [sic]. Ya have a blessed day."

He took the post down, but it wasn't enough to save his job, as 48 hours later, the department's chief announced Welsh had resigned after the two spoke on the phone.

The problem of law enforcement officers making racist posts on social media or exchanging racist texts and emails has gone hand-in-hand with the rise in heavy handed police tactics when dealing with minorities, particularly young black men.

In past years, police officers who sent racist posts or texts have often gotten off with just a slap on the wrist, if they were disciplined at all.

In one particularly galling example, a photo of a Fort Worth, Iowa, police officer holding a noose around a snowman's neck after a black officer was killed led to the two officers who complained about the photo being fired. Those officers sued the police department, contending their firing for an alleged overtime scandal was actually retaliation for complaining about the picture, and one got his job back.

In another, a veteran officer in New York received only a light suspension after he was found to have posted a picture on his Facebook page of a group of baboons, comparing them to Ferguson, Missouri, protestors. A scandal involving San Francicso cops exchanging racist texts ended with the officers fired, only to get their jobs back after a judge found the police department waited too long to discipline them. Troy Middlebrooks, an officer in Alabama, made international headlines for keeping his job after being caught on tape plotting to murder a black man, using racial slurs in the process.

However, while some racist cops have managed to keep their jobs, many more have been fired or forced to resign, though it's often years later.

  • The chief of staff to the sheriff of Los Angeles County was forced out in 2016 after racist messages from 2012 were published by the Los Angeles Times.
  • A Utah officer was forced to resign in June for racist Facebook posts.
  • A Miami Beach cop was fired in February after sending racist emails.
  • An officer in Georgia was fired and others resigned after it was revealed that they made Facebook posts hinting at targeting black drivers for extra tickets.
  • A Florida officer lost her job in March for her Facebook post comparing former President Barack Obama to a gorilla.
  • In 2015, three Florida cops were fired for sending racist texts and forwarding a KKK-promoting video.
  • An Alabama cop was fired shortly after the election for posting a meme calling Michelle Obama "fluent in ghetto."

The quick decision that forced Welsh out of his job might be faster than many other disciplinary actions, but he's another example in a growing number of police who face at least some kind of major accountability after racist social media posts.