NOPD officer comments about Travyon Martin prompt outrage from community

POSTED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 2:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 2:04pm

A New Orleans Police officer posted the controversial comments online about the shooting of Florida teenager, Travyon Martin. While the NOPD condemns the act, some African American leaders say the comments are increasing tensions between the black community and the NOPD.

NOPD Superintendent Ronald Serpas didn't mince words when he announced officer Jason Giroir was suspended without pay indefinitely for racially charged comments he admitted to posting on wwltv.com. Giroir's comment says, "act like a thug, die like one!"

“Giroir has embarrassed this department with insensitive and harmful and offensive comments,” Serpas said.

Giroir was already on desk duty after initiating the traffic stop March 1, 2012 that ended with Justin Sipp dead and two officers injured.

“There's a few bad apples in there,” he said. “And I don't know where it's coming from.”

New Orleans native, Eldon Anderson started the River Garden Community Group to help strengthen neighborhoods. He says he wants to trust the NOPD.

“But now the bad cops are tainting the good cops,” Anderson added. “And it's getting outrageous.”

SUNO Criminologist, John Penney says nationwide the black community wants to respect police and help them do their job.

“And yet what they get for that in many cases is a bash and a kick,” Penney notes.

He says that has created mistrust.

“It's ironic that in many cases, the black community has protected the criminal more than they would protect the police,” Penney added.

Nolan Rollins with the Urban League of New Orleans says two police involved shootings and now these insensitive remarks couldn't have come at a worse time for NOPD-community relations.

“This is a time when the world is watching, where the city is watching,” he said. “We're watching one another closely…and if you can't trust a person when you are looking directly in their eyes - if you can't trust what their hands are doing, how are you ever going to trust them when you aren't looking at them.”

Rollins says Serpas is moving in the right direction but it will take time.

“We're talking about redoing a system here,” he said. “So it's not just coming in and getting rid of everyone that you think is bad. it's really figuring out what things in the system are the problem…what things are parasitic for the community…and weeding those things out.”
 

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