Florida Sergeant in Hot Water for Tweet Calling Black People One of ‘America’s Biggest Problems’
The Florida sheriff’s office has launched an internal investigation into one of its own officers who allegedly shared racist tweets online, including one claiming to be black. is one of America’s “biggest problems”.
On Tuesday, Jacksonville Sheriff Pat Ivey told the local news agency News about First Coast that the department has reviewed social media posts linked to Sgt. Douglas Howell, a member of the force’s gang investigation unit. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the sheriff told the network the officer could be reprimanded. The officer’s Twitter account was locked after the messages were made public by the police department.
“The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is currently undergoing an active administrative investigation regarding multiple reports of an employee allegedly posting disparaging material on a personal social media account,” Ivey told First. Coast News in a statement. “I have asked our Home Affairs Unit to look into these allegations. Detectives have begun work on an effort to verify if these posts are legitimate and most importantly, determine if the individual responsible for the posts could be a JSO employee.”
Howell’s social media posts over the past 10 years have raised questions from the public, News about First Coast reported. The senior official, who is white, allegedly made a number of posts that insulted anti-racism efforts and the LGBTQ+ community.
In a tweet, the local news site NewsJax4 reported that Howell’s account made disparaging comments about Boy Scouts’ involvement with a local Pride parade.
“This is absolutely infuriating. These people are sick and have dementia,” the tweet read, according to NewsJax4.
In another post, according to the news outlet, his account responded to a post about white Mexicans’ relationship to white supremacy.
“Are there Mexicans with different skin colors?? (Insert Sarcasm),” he allegedly wrote.
A third tweet from 2013 stated that “America’s Three Biggest Problems” were “Marijuana Abuse, Cannabis Abuse, and Negroes”.
According to NewsJax4, officers of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are free to express themselves on social media as long as the content of what they post does not interfere with their work or violate the office’s social media policies. However, “participating in speech of any kind… ridicule, malice, disparage or express prejudice against any race, religion or any class of individuals is permitted which protection” would be a violation of social media policy, the news agency reported.
The sheriff told NewsJax4 that the consequences can range from suspension to termination.
According to Howell’s LinkedIn page, he has been with the police department for 18 years.
Howell and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office did not respond to The Daily Beast’s multiple requests for comment Tuesday.