Target: King County Sheriff John Urquhart
Goal: Fire deputy who has history of racism and homophobia.
Racist and homophobic text messages that Washington’s King County Sheriff’s Department sergeant Dewey Burns allegedly sent to his subordinates have been revealed by an internal department investigation. History has shown that law enforcement officers with private prejudices act on those prejudices while on the job. Demand that Sergeant Burns be fired at once if these allegations are shown to be true.
The internal investigation on Sergeant Burns’ communications with his subordinates, prompted by a sex discrimination lawsuit, asserted a disturbing collection of text messages that contained across-the-board racism and homophobia. Among other things, Burns is said to have lamented the presence of “fags at the gym,” “darkies” in a casino, a “Mexi” officer in the sheriff’s department, and “china [sic] man food” in general. He also told subordinates that the suspect for an assault was “probably black” because “usually violent ones are black dudes.”
Racism and homophobia are rampant in police departments across the country. It is the duty of every level of law enforcement to, at minimum, root out the people who adhere to such prejudices from their forces. Sign the petition below to demand that the King County Sheriff’s Department fire Sergeant Burns at once for his bigotries.
Dear Sheriff Urquhart,
I am writing you today regarding the alleged behavior of Sergeant Dewey Burns that has recently come to light as a result of the internal investigation that your department conducted for Deputy Amy Shoblom’s sex discrimination lawsuit. Sergeant Burns has shown that he is, if the accusations are correct, unfit to serve in law enforcement.
If police were ever trusted by the general public, that trust has by now completely evaporated for all but the most privileged, ardent defenders of the status quo. The attitudes reflected in Burns’ alleged text messages with his subordinates demonstrate why that trust has faded away—racism and homophobia are, and always have been, rampant in police departments around the nation. In order to restore any sense of respect the public has with regards to law enforcement, police need to show that they take this issue of prejudice within their ranks very seriously.
You have said yourself that “Whether it was done in jest, whether he didn’t mean it, whether he just had an off moment, it really doesn’t matter,” because “this is a matter of public trust.” Your department cannot maintain any air of legitimacy if Sergeant Burns is allowed to remain on as a part of it. I demand that you fire him for his apparent bigotry at once.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DouglasGreen via Wikimedia Commons