Text Messages Reveal More Racism in San Franciso's Police Department

April 26th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

The San Francisco Police Department is under the microscope once again.

Officer Jason Lai has resigned from the San Francisco Police Department after he was allegedly caught sending racist text messages, CNN reports.

According to documents obtained first by CNN, Officer Jason Lai, who is Chinese, exchanged dozens of racist text messages with fellow officers and "people he had befriended on his beat." They were originally found during a sexual assault investigation against Lai, for which he was not charged.

The texts use racial and homophobic slurs, disparage NBA player Lebron James, and make reference to burning down a Walgreens to kill homeless people.

"Burn down Walgreens and kill the bums."

"I hate that beaner but I think the nig is worse."

"Indian ppl are disgusting."

In reference to basketball star Lebron James:

"F**k that nig."

Lai also uses Cantonese racial slang like "hak gwai," which is a slur for Black people and talks about hoping they would die.

"Too bad none of them died. One less to worry about."

According to a press release provided by SFPD, Lai has also been charged with "six misdemeanor counts for unlawful access and/or use of criminal and motor vehicle data bases." It's not clear if Lai resigned as a result of the racist texts or the unlawful access charges, however, SFPD strongly condemned the messages he sent.

Police Chief Greg Suhr stated in a press release:

"As has been clearly stated but cannot be overstated enough, there is no room in this Department for anyone who holds these types of hateful and discriminatory views. Any officer who engages in such reprehensible racist and homophobic remarks will be held accountable and swiftly dealt with. These views are clearly incompatible with the character required of being a police officer. We will not allow officers capable of such conduct to sully the good name of the San Francisco Police Department and what we stand for."

Lai's text messages re-ignited criticism of SFPD on social media.

Lai was also involved in a previous SFPD scandal, in which 3,000 arrests were put under review because of racist text messages sent by department officers. District Attorney George Gascon assembled panel of retired judges to make sure that police racial bias didn't lead to wrongful convictions. Some charges were dismissed as a result of the texts, and the investigation is still ongoing, according to CNN.

Lai's text messages are just the latest incident to deepen tensions between SFPD and the Black community in San Francisco. Last December, ATTN: reported on a viral video showing a Black man with a knife being shot and killed by five SFPD cops.

Dr. Amos C. Brown, the president of the San Francisco NAACP chapter, told ATTN: that he's disgusted by Lai's racist text messages but he's not that surprised.

"There needs to be a clear message sent to the whole community that this kind of homophobic racist nonsense wil not be tolerated at all." he said.

Brown said that these text messages are not isolated incidents of racism. He said that San Francisco is like Ferguson, Missouri, the place where race riots erupted after an unarmed black man was killed by a police officer. "San Francisco is no different than the rest of the United States where there are too many people who are supposed to be protecting people who are instead harassing and assaulting people," he said.

Brown said that the only way for relations between minorities and the SFPD to improve is a completely new approach to training. He said that police departments need to hire officers who reflect the diversity in the community and also know how to interact with different ethnicities.

"All new officers and veteran ones too should go through cultural competence training with community people involved," he said. "These are people who are knowledgeable about about that community and can sit and talk with them in an non threatening way."

ATTN: has reached out to SFPD for comment, and will update this story when they respond.

The SFPD is not the only police department facing accusations of racial profiling.

The Chicago Police Department got caught in an alleged cover-up concerning the shooting death of Black teenager Laquan McDonald. In 2014 McDonald was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke. McDonald was suspected of breaking into cars and was carrying a knife, but was walking away when Van Dyke fired on him. Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder based on a video of the shooting, which eventually surfaced and contradicted both his and the police union's original version of events. The ordeal exposed a year long effort by CPD to misrepresent details of the shooting, according to The New York Times.

Following the police shooting death of unarmed Black man Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, local officers resigned and a city employee was fired because of racist emails uncovered in a Department of Justice investigation. The Justice Department report found evidence that the Ferguson's police department and court system in engaged in a pattern of systemic racism.

RELATED: Video Shows Man With Knife Fatally Shot by Five San Francisco Cops