Boston police officer Justin Barrett, commenting on the arrest of black Harvard professor Henry Gates, has been suspended from the force for calling Gates a “jungle monkey” in an email written to the Boston Globe.
After learning of the racist remarks, Commissioner Edward Davis put Barrett on administrative leave. Barrett could be fired pending a termination hearing.
On July 16th, police responded to an alleged home invasion at the Gates residence, and arrested Gates for disorderly conduct. The incident was viewed by some as racially motivated, and set off a media frenzy. President Obama even joined the fray, saying that the officers acted “stupidly.”
Last Thursday the Boston Globe ran an editorial critical of the policemen’s conduct, and Barrett’s email was apparently in response to the piece. Barret sent his response to private contacts and, for some reason, the Boston Globe. In the email, which can be viewed here, Barrett says:
“If I was the officer he [Gates] verbally assaulted like a banana eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC [pepper spray].”
“It was not his brightest moment,” says Barrett’s lawyer.
Gates and Boston Sgt. James Crowley are still scheduled to share a beer at the White House tonight to settle their differences.
“I did not mean to offend anyone,’’ Barrett said in an interview with WCVB-TV. “The words were being used to characterize behavior, not describe anyone . . . I didn’t mean it in a racist way. “