Protesters Demand Action in Wake of Antioch Police Racist Texts Scandal

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Fallout continues from a string of alleged racist and homophobic text messages shared among the Antioch Police Department.

Dozens of community members held a rally and march in protest ahead of Tuesday's special city council meeting. Demonstrators demanded immediate action and accountability as the number of police officers involved in the scandal continues to grow.

"How are we going to feel if we can not call someone when we are in danger that is actually going to help us?" said Devin Williams, who helped organize the rally.

Protesters marched from the police department to city hall. The group issued a list of 12 demands, including firing officers involved in abusive behavior and requiring officers to get bias training. Here's the full list of what the protesters are demanding:

  • Fire and decertify officers involved in abusive behavior.
  • Accountability: No pension, investigation of hate crimes by APD conspiracy to cover up and to commit hate crimes. All settlements should come from the APD/APOA budget.
  • Prosecution for all civil rights violation
  • Restructuring regulations for the police officers association
  • Full audit of internal affairs
  • Mandate bias training, if it exists then strengthen it.
  • Mandate Mental health services for APD at an appropriate timeline let the professionals decide that timeline for new and existing officers. (after certain excessive use of force, officer involved shootings, and etc.)
  • The 45 officers involved who hold leadership positions need to be investigated as well and we need to pause all criminal filings pertaining to the officers.
  • Anti-harassment policies to ensure protections for marginalized communities historically targeted.
  • Reopen cases with officers involved in custody deaths.
  • Investigation of hate crimes and conspiracies.
  • Charge all involved with RICO act and domestic terrorism.

Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker is hoping an ordinance will be brought before the council next week that would require the police chief to report to the city council.

"For optimal measures of accountability and transparency that we think we need to make a shift even if only temporary for the police chief to report to the city council," Torres-Walker said.

The growing frustration comes after the text messages were uncovered as part of an FBI investigation into other possible crimes by police. A superior court judge on April 7 released the names of the involved officers - among them was the president of the Antioch police union.

"It was disgusting nonetheless and traumatizing from knowing that a leader within the Antioch Police Department had this very derogatory statement," said Shagoofa Khan, who was the subject of one of the alleged profane text messages.

Contra Costa County Public Defender Ellen McDonnell claims at least 45 Antioch officers are involved in the scandal, which is nearly half of the city's police force. McDonnell has said thousands of past and current criminal cases could be impacted or overturned as a result of the alleged racist text messages sent by officers.

“Sixteen of them are in leadership roles. There’s an internal affairs officer that’s part of these text messages. Showing once again the police cannot police the police,” he said.

Antioch police Chief Steve Ford recently released a statement condemning "the racially abhorrent content and incomprehensible behavior being attributed to members of the Antioch Police Department in media reports. I have taken immediate action to ensure a thorough investigation by an external independent entity is conducted and the community is not exposed to any individuals under question from this reporting."

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office last week released an investigative report detailing the alleged racist texts. The redacted investigative report was made available after some of the messages were "obtained and distributed beyond the parties of a criminal case," the DA's office said.

At the meeting, the council approved an audit of the police department’s internal affairs processes, its hiring and promotions procedures and an equity audit.

“Generally we want to look at specific data related to outcomes in terms of arrests, and use of force, and everything that they do,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe.

In response to demands that something be done immediately, Mayor Thorpe said, a rush to judgment, would not be in the best interests of the city but vows.

The reforms approved Tuesday will be in place before the FBI investigation is over.

NBC Bay Area also obtained an additional DA investigative report examining the alleged racist texts. View it below.

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