In an apology issued Wednesday, the Boston Police officer who sent out an e-mail blast last week describing Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates as a “banana-eating jungle monkey” says he’s no racist and that he even has some Black friends.
See a Copy of the E-mail: Scroll down and click plus sign to enlarge or view full page here.
“I regret that I used such words,” Officer Justin Barrett told WCVB TV in Boston. “I have so many friends of every type of culture and race you can name. I am not a racist.” Barrett, 36, was blowing off some steam after the controversy surfaced involving the preeminent Black Harvard scholar, who was arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass., by a White policeman who was investigating a suspected burglary.
An active member of the National Guard, Barrett sent his incendiary e-mail to several fellow Guard members, and to the Boston Globe, which had run column about the arrest. In that column, Yvonne Abraham asked readers, “Would you stand for this kind of treatment, in your own home, by a police officer who by now clearly has no right to be there?” Barrett’s response, posted on a Boston television station’s Web site, was that if he had “been the officer [Gates] verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC (oleorosin capsicum, or pepper spray), deserving of his belligerent non-compliance.”
During his online tirade, Barrett repeated “jungle monkey” four times. He continued, saying, “I’m not a racist but I am prejudice [sic] towards people who are stupid and pretend to stand up and preach for something they say is freedom but it is merely attention because you do not get enough of it in your little fear-dwelling circle of on-the-bandwagon followers.” Barrett’s attorney, Peter Marano, said his client was taken out of context. “Officer Barrett did not call professor Gates a jungle monkey or malign him racially,” Marano said.
“He said his behavior was like that of one. It was a characterization of the actions of that man.”” Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis was convinced. He snatched Barrett’s gun and badge. The officer is now “on administrative leave, pending the outcome of a termination hearing.”