Norman Officer to be Disciplined for Racist Email about Virus Masks

May 27, 2020

Credit Norman Police

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma police officer will be disciplined for violating department policy when he responded to an email about coronavirus protective masks that were issued by sending racist images of people with white bags over their faces carrying torches, reminiscent of black victims being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Sarah Jensen’s announcement comes as Norman police Officer Jacob McDonough remains on duty while the department’s internal affairs division investigates the May 15 email that he sent to about 250 colleagues. It featured men dressed in KKK masks from Quentin Tarantino’s violent slave-revenge saga, “Django Unchained.”

“The investigation into this incident has sustained an allegation of violation of department policy against the involved employee,” Jensen said in a news release. “The process has now transitioned into the disciplinary phase.”

The photos include the captions, “I think we all think the bag was a nice idea,” followed by, “But not pointin’ any fingers, they coulda been done better.”

Within 15 minutes of McDonough’s post, police Lt. Lee McWhorter responded.

“McDonough, I really hope you didn’t mean that the way it looks because that’s MORE than inappropriate. I’d say this is a fantastic time to stop this email thread,” McWhorter wrote.

“Sir, I would like to apologize,” McDonough wrote in response, saying he was using satire from the movie.

Police chief Kevin Foster has said McDonough, who’s worked for the department since February 2018, could be terminated for sending the images.

Foster added that he was “very offended” and “couldn’t believe an officer had sent that out.”

McDonough noted in the apology that he “did not mean any disrespect at all,” according to a portion of the email thread provided by the police department. Foster said some officers raised concerns about the masks during the email discussion about “breathing and fitting right and staying on in the field.”

“This is the judgement of one officer sending a photo out like that,” Foster said at a news conference May 19. “Regardless of what he was thinking, the inappropriateness of it and how it offends people is still there.”