MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon is speaking out against Pleasantville police officer Peter Burns, who allegedly posted a racism-fueled rant against President Barack Obama on his Facebook page.
According to the LoHud article, Burns, under a pseudonym, made a statement that included several racial slurs and ideals. He has since been suspended by Police Chief Richard Love, and may be fired following an investigation.
Damon Jones, the Mount Vernon-based representative for the Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, said that this is just one of multiple incidents of racism that have plagued the county in recent years. He cited the case of Kenneth Chamberlain in White Plains and the Danroy Henry shooting in Pleasantville as prior examples.
“Westchester is developing a history of continuous racial incidents in various law enforcement departments,” he said. “Today, most of us in Westchester of varying backgrounds can indeed get along, but when old suspicions arise in our law enforcement, we should bring about concerns that we still have work to do.”
Jones praised Love for his swift, decisive action. He was initially shown the derogatory post on Monday for the first time, and subsequently suspended Burns on Tuesday.
“As a national organization of law enforcement professionals, we commend Chief Love for taking immediate action and relieving Officer Burns from duty and conducting a full investigation,” he added.
Local police officials declined to comment, but local residents were outraged at the alleged incident. Mayor Davis did not respond to an inquiry as of Wednesday night.
“It’s sickening that we have to even have this conversation in 2013. It’s one step forward and three steps back,” North Terrace Avenue resident Winston Smith, 48 said. “I’m glad they suspended him, and seem like they might fire him. This whole thing is unacceptable.”
Burns’ alleged post threatens the president, and concludes by telling him to, “Go die in a shallow grave you Muslim commie.” Jones said that by the letter of the law, this is a class D felony for threatening to “take the life of, kidnap or inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States.”
“Not only is he stupid for [posting] it, but he’s even stupider for putting it online for everyone to see,” resident Tom Tighe added.
Jones said that racism throughout police units has become commonplace around Westchester County, and said that his organization is calling on officials to help find a solution.
“(They) have constantly ignored the pink elephant in the room called racism among rank and file in law enforcement,” he said. “What is most unsettling, even many black officers have turned a blind eye to incidents of racism in their departments in fear of loss of promotions, opportunities in special units or being an outcast.”