A cop in Chicago could be fired after repeatedly posting racist and insensitive comments on Facebook — including a cartoon of a boy urinating on the word “Allah” and a warning to Black Lives Matter activists to stay away from his family.
Officer Brian J. Hensen, a 25-year veteran of the force, also allegedly parked his SUV outside a police station with a bumper sticker depicting a truck running over scattering protesters along with the words: “All lives splatter. Nobody cares about your protest.”
Chicago’s police oversight agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, condemned Hansen’s alleged actions in a 95-page report obtained by the Chicago Tribune. The agency concluded that Hansen is unable to conduct “fair and impartial” law enforcement duties to all citizens of Chicago due to the “distasteful, abusive, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and discriminatory” posts on social media.
“There can be no doubt, based on PO Hansen’s Facebook activity and vehicle decals, that PO Hansen cannot live out this mission,” according to the report, which noted that courts have routinely ruled that cops can be fired for bigoted speech without violating the First Amendment.
Hansen and his attorney did not return requests for comment, the Tribune reports. But Hansen has insisted that the comments, which were made during his off-duty hours, were examples of protected speech, COPA said in interviews with investigators.
Hansen has been assigned to paid desk duty since August, according to the COPA report, and the department’s superintendent, Eddie Johnson, has up to three months to determine if he’ll recommend Hansen be terminated to the Chicago Police Board. That agency will then determine his punishment, the Tribune reports.
In all, the COPA report upheld 62 allegations against Hansen, including bringing discredit to the department and violating a rule banning officers from posting content on social media that vilifies a person or group based on “race, religion, sexual orientation or any other protected class.”
The bulk of the allegations were in reference to Facebook comments Hansen posted between June 2015 and August 2017. In one post, Hansen referred to black children as “wild African kids” and commented on a video of apparent Middle Eastern men falling off a truck by saying he hoped they were “paralyzed,” according to the COPA report.
Hansen also made apparent references to civil rights activists Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Rev. Michal Pfleger, writing in another Facebook post: “In the name of the Jesse, the Al, and the Holy Pfleger, Amen.”
Hansen, who has been named in at least 57 complaints since joining the department in 1992, attempted to clarify with investigators that his views toward Muslims were limited to “radical Islam” only. But investigators found that in all but one post, Hansen “did not label his Islamophobic posts as specific to ‘radical Islam’” and posted “countless horrific images and posts espousing the belief that all Muslims should die,” according to COPA’s report.