“I have a dream. That one day my people will not act like animals,” said Brant Gaither, a McIntosh County Sheriff’s deputy, in a recent facebook post that resulted in his termination on July 25.
“Lol. That’ll never happen,” replied Jeremy Owens, an officer from Darien, who quit the day following Gaither’s termination.
Both officers served on the department’s special traffic unit patrolling I-95 in South Georgia. An internal affairs investigation unveiled racist and sexist messages sent via Facebook messaging, including an apparent effort on behalf of both officers to target black motorists.
“It’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Might not get too many niggs,” Owens wrote in one of the messages.
“I hope we get a few but (expletive) if we don’t,” Gaither replied.
The officers are claiming these comments are just “jokes,” but Sheriff Stephen D. Jessup is not laughing. Jessup said the posts made him “want to throw up.”
“There is no joke about something like that. Period,” Sheriff Jessup said. “It’s total racism.”
Sarah Geraghty, the Southern Center for Human Rights’ managing attorney for impact litigation, said that the firm is preparing a request for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate. She does not think that this is an isolated incident.
“This case goes deeper than two officers caught using racist language on their personal social media pages,” Geraghty said. “The messages reference an explicit intent by these law enforcement officials to ‘get’ black motorists. Our investigation to date suggests that this may be the tip of the iceberg.”
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