ST. PAUL - Renewing Minnesota Muslim grievances, a second photo depicting a St. Paul policeman dressed in a Muslim woman clothing with his face covered with a brown paint has appeared online, igniting an internal affairs investigation and planned changes in the city's police department.
"I don't care if they're on duty or off duty, anything that can reflect poorly on the image of this department or this city, it's not going to be tolerated," Police Chief Thomas Smith said Friday, February 8, Twin Cities.com reported.
"They can have private lives, but they're still officers and they have to earn that badge every day."
The new photo, which came to light on Friday, shows a man wearing hijab with what appears to be brown paint covering his face.
The photo was posted on the Facebook page of someone named Jim Lee in October 2010 and seems to have been taken at a Halloween gathering.
A St. Paul police officer is named Jim Lee, but police aren't saying whether he's the man in the photo
Receiving the photo on his Twitter account, Mukhtar Ibrahim, a Washington DC-based journalist who used to live in St. Paul who also received the first photo, asked about the second photo too.
"I want to know if this man in the photo could b one of your officers?" Ibrahim tweeted to the police department.
Police responded to him via Twitter, "Chief Smith is very aware of this photo. He is taking swift action looking into the matter. Thank you."
Smith said officers will be retrained in cultural matters.
He arranged another recorded message to be circulated at department-wide about the oath of office that officers took, conduct unbecoming an officer, and the dangers of officers using social media.
The first photo showed a white male police officer wearing a Target name tag with a Somali name, who was found later to be a St. Paul officer named Robert Buth.
Buth issued an apology Tuesday, saying the picture was taken at a private Halloween party on personal time
"I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by the recently publicized photo," Buth said in the statement.
He said he regrets that the image "may have been viewed to be insensitive to the Muslim community."
After the publication of the outrageous photos, five members of the East African community wrote an editorial expressing anger and disappointment.
Wearing culturally specific and revered expressions of identity as a costume is an offensive act and an expression of white privilege, wrote the four women and one man who are members of the East African community in the editorial published on Afro-Remix website.
These 'costumes' perpetuate racial and cultural stereotypes, reduce entire communities to a set of props and qualities, and result in cultural appropriation and misrepresentation.
Because it involved an officer, the group also wrote, As a result, community members may believe that there's no point in reporting crimes since those tasked with protecting us may have a bias or question if officers take the concerns from the community seriously.
Reach out to the community, especially those of Somali descent, an assistant police chief went to a St. Paul mosque and spoke with about 200 people.
Police spokesman Howie Padilla, who was also there, said they received a positive reception.
I don't want the actions of a couple to tarnish all of the work that we have done with our diverse communities for quite some time, Smith said.
A city council member Melvin Carter rejected the offensive photos.
The actions of the officers depicted in these photos are offensive and embarrassing, he said.
Mocking culture, skin color and religion for a laugh may seem trivial, but any behavior that violates the sacred, essential trust between our officers and residents is reckless and inexcusable.