After a second photo surfaced this week of a St. Paul police officer dressed in a Somali Muslim woman’s clothing, apparently for Halloween in both cases, Police Chief Thomas Smith has ordered an internal affairs investigation and is planning changes in the department.
Star Tribune The first photo surfaced on Twitter Sunday, depicting K-9 officer Robert Buth dressed as a Somali Target employee in a red jilbaab, a type of hijab. The second photo surfaced Wednesday on an anonymous Twitter account, was e-mailed anonymously to police Chief Thomas Smith Thursday morning and gained more momentum on Twitter Friday.
In the second image, an officer, who hasn’t been identified by the department, is wearing an orange jilbaab and what appears to be blackface makeup. Police said it’s unclear if the second officer was a sworn officer at the time the photo was taken, apparently in 2010. It appeared to originate on Facebook before it landed on Twitter.
Smith said officers will be retrained in MUSLIM cultural matters. He also has recorded a message to be circulated department-wide about the oath of office that officers took, conduct unbecoming an officer, and the dangers of officers using social media.
The two pictures, apparently taken at parties in 2010 and 2012, have set off a storm of criticism from some Somali and Muslim community members who feel mocked and belittled by the images. St. Paul City Council Member Melvin Carter III called out the second image for the officer’s apparent use of blackface makeup. The first image did not include blackface makeup. (But the officers do look a lot like the Somali Muslim women in Minnesota – fresh off the illegal alien boats)
“The actions of the officers depicted in these photos are offensive and embarrassing,” Carter said in a written statement. “Mocking culture, skin color and religion for a laugh may seem trivial, but any behavior that violates the sacred, essential trust between our officers and residents is reckless and inexcusable.”
Although St. Paul officials have not commented on whether the officer is wearing blackface makeup, many community members believe he is, said Lori Saroya, executive director of the Minnesota Chapter of the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR-MN).”We’re getting a lot of calls from the community,” she said. “I think it’s a lot more serious. It just opens a whole other door.”
Hamas-linked CAIR-MN (Council on Anti-American Islamic Relations) offered to provide diversity training for Buth, and will now call for department-wide training, Saroya said.