A McIntosh County sheriff’s deputy was fired after an internal affairs investigation discovered he sent racist messages to another officer, who abruptly resigned. The Facebook messages also exposed that the two officers discussed targeting Black drivers.
Brant Gaither and Jeremy Owens both worked on a traffic unit, patrolling the heavily populated I-95. During one correspondence between the two officers, they discussed how they hope the weather doesn’t lower the number of Black drivers they can stop.
“It’s supposed to rain tomorrow,” wrote Owens. “Might not get too many niggs.”
“I hope we get a few but [expletive] if we don’t,” Gaither responded.
In other posts, the two jokingly mocked Black people in general, as well as Black history. At one point, Gaither changed the words from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech to embody a more racist thought.
“I have a dream. That one day my people will not act like animals,” wrote Gaither.
Owens then offensively responded, “Lol. That’ll never happen.”
Additionally, the two made disgusting comments that joked and condoned domestic violence towards women.
The messages were discovered in July of this year when a deputy was issued Owens’s old computer and had access to his Facebook account. Once the messages were discovered, Sheriff Stephen D. Jessup knew action needed to be immediately taken.
“There was never any question of what I needed to do and I did it,” Jessup said. “I do not tolerate that in my department.”
Gaither was then terminated and Owens resigned immediately after.
Although the officers left the department in July, the Southern Center for Human Rights just sent a lawyer to investigate the policing practices of the department.
“This case goes deeper than two officers caught using racist language on their personal social media pages,” said Sarah Geraghty, the center’s managing attorney for impact litigation. “The messages reference an explicit intent by these law enforcement officials to ‘get’ Black motorists. Our investigation to date suggests that this may be the tip of the iceberg.”
The center is prepared to request a formal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
(Photo: kali9/Getty Images)
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