Racist emails show Chicago official joked about “safari tour” to see violence in black neighborhoods

By: Ray Long and Todd Lighty – Contact Reporters
Chicagotribune.com

 

Overtly racist, sexist and homophobic emails were distributed for years among a group of top-level Chicago water department supervisors. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

Paul Hansen was a supervisor in the water department who allegedly used his city email to negotiate firearms deals. (July 18, 2017)

In a city scarred by a deep and troubling history with guns, a supervisor in the scandal-plagued water department used his city email account to negotiate firearms deals and make light of deadly Fourth of July violence in black neighborhoods by offering “Chicago Safari” tours, a new watchdog report revealed Monday.

The latest development in the ongoing investigation, which the Tribune first disclosed in May, emerged as Inspector General Joseph Ferguson detailed how ousted district water superintendent Paul Hansen emailed with individuals over personal purchases or sales of at least four firearms and five cars.

Those emails about firearms started the investigation over his use of a government account for personal business, which is against city rules. And it quickly spread to other emails sent by Hansen, who is white and the son of a former alderman, to other water department bosses, according to City Hall sources.

Newly released racist, sexist emails show scope of scandal t Chicago’s water department

In his quarterly report, Ferguson revealed a fresh string of anti-black emails sent to multiple high-ranking water department workers that touted a fake “Chicago Safari” package. It cited the number of shootings during a July Fourth weekend and guaranteed tourists would observe “at least one kill and five crime scenes” and also see “lots of animals in their natural habitat.”

Hansen’s racially charged emails included messages to fellow workers purported to be in “Ebonics,” sometimes called American black English, and a picture describing a swimming pool for a small African-American child who sits in a bucket filled with water while holding a slice of watermelon, the report found.

Ferguson also cited Hansen’s “Watermelon Protection” email that featured a picture depicting a Ku Klux Klan scarecrow guarding a field of watermelons, part of a cache of racist, sexist and homophobic emails the Tribune first disclosed online Friday.

Barrett Murphy, First Deputy Commissioner at the Chicago Department of Water Management- Chandler West~Sun-Times

A second figure noted in the report for anti-Muslim and anti-black emails was Thomas J. Durkin, the general foreman of plumbers who resigned recently after being placed on administrative leave while under investigation….

Still, Ferguson’s report raised questions about whether he found all the troubling emails. Ferguson said the mayor’s Law Department imposes restrictions that do not allow “unfettered access to city emails,” which has hampered the investigation. He said the Law Department requires that his office submit requests for emails using limited search terms and date ranges….

“The protocol allows up to 20,000 emails to be produced at a time, however, we greatly exceeded that count in this investigation and have accommodated similar requests every other time the Inspector General has requested a larger search,” McCaffrey said.

Hansen’s misuse of a city computer was so prevalent that, in one four-month period alone, he called up sexually explicit, age-restricted YouTube videos and visited other internet sites unrelated to city business on “thousands of occasions,” the report found. Durkin also was cited for sending and receiving sexually explicit photos and videos on his city email account….

At the time, the mayor’s office said Emanuel acted “quickly and decisively” by asking Murphy and top deputy William Bresnahan to step down after learning of what was then an 8-month-old Ferguson investigation….

Plaintiff Derrick Edmond, left, and attorney Victor P. Henderson walk outside the Sawyer Water Purification Plant at S.79th St. and the lakefront on June 29, 2017. (Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune)

And Emanuel’s newly installed water department Commissioner Randy Conner, an African-American, said his agency “has a zero tolerance policy on racism and sexism” and “will continue to take all appropriate measures to fully enforce this policy up to and including termination, or separation” from the department….

In late June, Durkin, the general foreman of plumbers, and John “Jack” Lee Jr., a district superintendent, were placed on administrative leave pending disciplinary decisions and now have resigned….

Ferguson said both Hansen and Durkin were designated as having resigned in lieu of discharge, and they will be placed on the ineligible-for-rehire list.

In another water department case, Ferguson recommended that a chemist who allegedly harassed a current water worker and a former employee be fired. Ferguson alleged the chemist made multiple derogatory text messages and phone calls, citing him for “aggressive and threatening behavior,” according to the report.

The department fired the chemist, who is fighting the termination.

 

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UCLA students protest after partygoers wear blackface at Kanye West-themed frat party

By Veronica Rocha, LA Times

 

Chanting “Black Bruins Matter,” UCLA students crammed into Chancellor Gene Block’s office Thursday, demanding a response for a party described as racist after some students wore blackface to a Kanye West-themed fraternity party.

Holding signs reading, “Our culture is not a costume,” hundreds of students marched on campus days after the party sparked anger over its racial overtones.

Jerry Kang, vice chancellor for UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, told the crowd he was heartbroken because “black Bruins’ lives matter.” UCLA, he said, is trying to respond and address concerns.

“It’s one thing to suggest you are actually focusing on one celebrity who is African American, it’s another thing to take it as a license to perform every attribute, every stereotype, every grotesque minstrelsy that you see,” he said.

ucla

Students who attended the Tuesday night “Kanye Western” party thrown by Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority wore baggy clothes, dressed like the Kardashians and some wore blackface, the Daily Bruin reported.

After photographs of the party surfaced on social media, students expressed concerns that the organizations’ actions were racist and mocked black culture, reigniting the social media hashtag #BlackBruinsMatter.

Alicia Frison, a student union member, told The Times that a student notified her and other members about the party Tuesday night after photographing some female partygoers who were wearing gold and had soot on their faces. Other female partygoers wore large fake butts and were balancing water bottles like Kim Kardashian did for her infamous Paper magazine photo shoot…

UCLA said it is investigating the party and talking to students.

“We do not yet have all the facts, the alleged behavior is inconsistent with good judgment as well as our principles of community,” UCLA said in a statement. “We remind students that while they are free to celebrate in ways that draw on popular culture, their specific choices can cause harm and pain to fellow members of their community. Put simply: Just because you can do something, does not mean you should.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national office says the UCLA fraternity has temporarily suspended activities as it investigates the incident. UCLA said Alpha Phi sorority’s social activities have also been temporarily suspended…

 

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Flowchart to ID Racism

By Meredith Clark, MSNBC.com

If a post on the Iowa Republican Party’s Facebook page is any indication, the right’s efforts to appeal to non-white voters still have a ways to go.1554524_418216541644863_514688006_n

On Friday night, the Iowa GOP surfaced a less-than-helpful flowchart to identify racism. The “Is someone a racist?” graphic was posted to the official Iowa Republican Party Facebook page and then quickly pulled down – but not beforeThe Daily Beast captured it.

The chart started by asking if the person is white. Non-white people were automatically “not racist,” and the only factor in determining whether a white person is racist or not was the question, “do you like them?”

After the post was removed, Iowa Republican Party chairman A.J. Spiker apologized in a Facebook post on the state party’s page. “Earlier tonight, a contractor of the Iowa GOP made a post referencing a discussion on race that the GOP believes was in bad taste and inappropriate. We apologize to those whom were offended, have removed the post and are ensuring it does not happen again,” he wrote.rpi_logo

The chart was not the first questionable social media post the Republican Party has made recently. On Dec. 1, the anniversary of Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience on a Montgomery, Ala. bus, the Republican National Committee posted a tweet thanking Parks for her “bold stand and her role in ending racism.” (. . .)

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Racist Comments Made to France’s Justice Minister, Again?

By Agence-France Presse, RawStory.com

France’s justice minister has been publicly subjected to racist taunts for the third time in barely a month, triggering a wave of outrage Tuesday over the hounding of the country’s top black politician. imgres-13

In the wake of two highly publicized incidents in which the minister, Christiane Taubira, was compared to a monkey, far right weekly magazine Minute published a cover page with the headline “Crafty as a monkey, Taubira gets her banana back”.

Amid an outcry over the magazine’s contents, Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced he was examining whether it was legally possible to block the distribution of the magazine.

“We cannot let this pass,” he said. (. . .) Harlem Desir, the First Secretary of the ruling Socialist Party and one of the founders of SOS Racisme, said all copies of the magazine should be seized by police.

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Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron called the cover “Unacceptable and nauseating” and there was also widespread condemnation from members of the centre-right UMP opposition party. Taubira is a hate figure for some on the right in French politics as she was the minister responsible for the legislation of gay marriage earlier this year. (. . .)

Last week, she spoke publicly of her dismay over the attacks she has been subjected to and implicitly criticised her government colleagues for not coming to her defence. Warning of a threat to France’s social cohesion, Taubira told the Liberation daily that, “Inhibitions are disappearing, dykes have been breached.” (. . .)

The treatment of Taubira has sparked much soul-searching among liberal commentators over whether racism has become widely acceptable in parts of French society.

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