The leader of the San Jose chapter of the NAACP says he plans to go to court try to overturn an arbitrator’s decision to allow a police officer back on the job after he was fired for sending what some called racist tweets.
Rev. Jeff Moore spoke at a news conference Monday where he told reporters he vowed to head to court on Tuesday, after he consults with lawyers about Officer Phillip White being put back on the job in an administrative capacity.
"If the mayor and city council don't act, we will," Moore said, flanked by members of the Asian Law Alliance and La Raza Roundtable, who supported his sentiments.
However, city of San Jose spokesman David Vossbrink said the arbitrator's decision is binding, and there would have to be evidence of corruption or collusion by the arbitrator for a court to overturn such a ruling.
An arbitrator ruled last week that White’s 2014 tweets, which seemed to attack the Black Lives Matter movement, were not cause to fire him - a decision that the San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia is complying with, even though he disagrees.
“While the city and department disagree with the arbitrator’s conclusion, we respect the process and will move forward with reinstatement,” Garcia said in a statement last week. Garcia made an unexpected visit to the news conference Monday, to stand up for the "900 or so officers" who are good employees and have never tweeted anything racist. "It's unfair to paint them with a broad brush," he said of his entire department. "I understand the community is frustrated. It's hard. And I'm here to take the brunt of that so my officers don't."
White is a 20-year veteran officer. Prior to be being fired, he ran a gang intervention program for kids.
BuzzFeed News was the first to report in December 2014 that White was put on administrative leave after these tweets were sent from White’s account: "Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you #COPSLIVESMATTER," and “By the way, if anyone feels they can't breathe or their lives matter, I'll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun."
In yet another, White vowed to use his “God-given and law-appointed right and duty to kill” if threatened. And other tweets, now deleted, showed the officer ridiculing protesters who shut down the West Oakland BART Station and criticizing members of the UC Berkeley women’s basketball team who took part in protests.
Last week, San Jose Police Officers Association President Paul Kelly released a statement upon White's return: "The personnel process has reinstated Officer White and it is our hope that the offensive social media comments that were the center of this personnel action are never repeated."