How can people expect police officers to protect them from crimes driven by racism and hatred when the people employed by local police forces exhibit the same type of behavior themselves?
That’s the question on the minds of many people after a spokesperson for the Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office showed more concern for the perpetrator of the murders of eight people in a series of shootings at Atlanta area massage parlors than for the victims that 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long shot dead yesterday.
Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office drew instantaneous condemnation on social media after he described the confessed murderer as having had “a very bad day,” as if the shooting of innocent people in what was likely a hate crime aimed at women of Asian descent was of no more consequence than having a bad turn of luck at the golf course or finding your car battery dead when leaving for work.
Baker’s lack of sensitivity and misplaced priorities could have been chalked up to a local official being unprepared for the sudden national media spotlight he was thrust into on short notice.
Once inquiring minds began investigating Baker’s social media feeds, however, they began to question whether Captain Baker’s seemingly sympathetic attitude towards the shooter was a product of shared racist sensibilities rather than him having his own bad day at work.
For there on Captain Baker’s Facebook page were a series of posts he made hawking T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan: “COVID-19 imported virus from CHY-NA.”
Hmmm? One wonders where he might have picked up that idea. Perhaps from a despicable former chief executive who likes to call COVID, the “China virus” or the “Wuhan Flu”?
In case you had any doubts about the Georgia sheriff’s intention in posting the photos of the racist T-shirts, a quick perusal of the captions on his posts sets you straight.
“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote on a March 30 post that he accompanied with a smiley face.
“Love my shirt,” Baker wrote in another post back in April of 2020. “Get yours while they last.’”
If this is the type of person who is supposed to be protecting people from racist attacks like Robert Aaron Long conducted yesterday, one can’t blame people for being mistrustful that justice will ever be equitably served.
This is particularly true when rather than describing Long’s actions as a hate crime, Baker went out of his way to attribute the shooter’s motivations to his “sexual addiction” issues and said that Long targeted the spas to “take out that temptation.”
Let’s hope that the prosecutors who actually bring Long to trial won’t be equally complicit in racist behavior and that the true motivations for his heinous actions are revealed in the court proceedings.
Original reporting by Pilar Melendez and William Bredderman at The Daily Beast.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.