At least 45 officers from the Antioch Police Department in California participated in “racist, homophobic, and violent” text message chains, a top public defender says.
Per a report from KNTV, citing a letter from Contra Costa County Public Defender Ellen McDonnell, at least 45 Antioch cops—16 or more of which are said to hold leadership positions in the department—are involved in the text chains. In addition to racist and homophobic language, the texts include other deeply troubling remarks, including bragging about assaulting suspects and racist surveilling techniques.
On Monday, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office released a second redacted report from the investigation, available here. The report, per the D.A.’s office, includes texts and images shared and received by “certain members” of the department in March of 2021.
“I condemn—in the strongest possible terms—the racially abhorrent content and incomprehensible behavior being attributed to members of the Antioch Police Department in media reports,” Antioch Police Department Chief Steve Ford said in a statement shared last week.
In a more recent statement, the department said the allegations against its officers are being “taken very seriously.” These allegations, the department added, are presently under investigation.
Complex has reached out to McDonnell and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office for additional comment. This story may be updated.
Moving forward, attention will continue to surround these revelations, including in terms of how this may affect those targeted by police’s behavior—notably, many have called for the dismissal of cases connected with these texts. For now, the multi-agency investigation continues.