FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The NAACP is calling for a federal investigation into four former Fort Lauderdale police officers accused of engaging in racially offensive exchanges.
One officer has resigned and three others were fired over the racist text messages and video, but some claim that is not enough.
NAACP President Marsha Ellison and Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein held a news conference Friday, calling for a full investigation by the Department of Justice.
"The fact that nobody reported this video or these texts, and it is only because a romantic relationship broke up that this information came forward," said Finkelstein. "If the police had had their way in Fort Lauderdale, this would have been handled the way they always handled it. It would have been dropped into a black hole, and it would have disappeared because it was just a bunch of good ol' boys yucking it up."
"We want to make sure that the citizens' voices have been heard," Ellison added. "I understand there was a thorough investigation; however, I cannot find a citizen that was spoken to, anyone who believed they were a victim. Their voices have not been heard."
"That is why the NAACP has opened its police complaint center. Anyone who believes they have been a victim of biased policing should call our phone number. That can be racial profiling, driving while black, walking while black, breathing while black. It could be dog bite victims --anyone who has been a victim of biased policing."
The NAACP hotline is 954-764-7604. Ellison said complaints will be sent straight to the Department of Justice.
"We appreciate the efforts of the NAACP to encourage people to come forward if they feel they have been subject to racist behavior by any of the Fort Lauderdale police officers who were terminated or resigned as a result of our complete and thorough Internal Affairs investigation," Mayor Jack Seiler said in a statement. "There is zero tolerance for this type of behavior within the city of Fort Lauderdale. Should the Department of Justice decide to become involved in a review of this matter, they will have our full support and cooperation."
"We remain committed to working every day to restore the community's faith and trust in our law enforcement officers, and repairing any damage to the strong bonds that exist between our neighbors and our police department."
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