Earlier this month, Baton Rouge local news station WBRZ learned from an anonymous source about a series of text messages sent by a local police officer that were the focus of an internal investigation being conducted by the Baton Rouge Police Department. And while the earliest reports did not disclose the name of the officer in question, it wasn’t long after the story broke that members of the local community, stunned by how incredibly repugnant the texts were, began demanding the officer’s name be made public.
Officer Michael Elsbury was a 15-year veteran of the BRPD. During those fifteen long years, he worked in a majority Black district, District 4, and he regularly patrolled the Southern Historically Black College and University. To a female friend, he explained unequivocally how he felt about the Black people he’d sworn an oath to “serve and protect”. Let’s have a look:
“They are nothing but a bunch of monkeys!!!! The only reason they have this job is because of the n***er n***er in them!! I wish someone would pull a Ferguson on them and take them out! I hate looking at those African monkeys at work. And I enjoy arresting those thugs with their sagging pants.
You are a n***er-loving n***er and you will be blocked for good this time. [expletive] [expletive]”
In the aftermath of this disturbing revelation, Dr. Ernest Johnson of the Louisiana NAACP called for Elsbury’s immediate firing, and on September 4th Elsbury resigned. But Dr. Johnson thinks it is a mistake not to go back and reexamine some of the arrests Elsbury made over the last 15 years, especially given the comments he made admitting how much he enjoyed arresting young Black men, the men officer Elsbury calls “thugs”.
Though Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie would like us to believe that “this is an isolated incident” and that of his “650 officers… 649 of them” are completely competent, it is very difficult to accept this is the case. The Baton Rouge Police Department, like every other police department in this nation, has a long history of racism and brutality. At the end of the day, it’s more likely that the only thing separating Michael Elsbury from most other police officers is that his private thoughts found their way to the public eye. It’s this realization which is perhaps most disturbing of all.