On Tuesday afternoon I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed when I came across an article posted by WWL-TV News out of Louisiana. The news story was about illegal ATV riding on city streets and how has created a “sense of lawlessness” in the Jefferson Parish. Within the story was a video of mostly African-American youth riding 4-wheelers and dirt bikes on busy streets in the city:
"You've got these clowns putting on stunt shows, which is very dangerous; it can become intimidating and it's not…
Sadly it was this video that caused a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Jordan Burst decided to engage in dog-whistle politics and accuse the black of theft:
Let’s be clear, assuming that black people must have stolen something is racist. When a white person is speeding down the road on a motorcycle, nobody says,”9/10 odds that’s a stolen bike.” It’s only when African-Americans are using expensive things that people like Deputy Burst assume the property does not belong to them.
When I called Deputy Burch out, he, of course, turned it around as if I was the ignorant person and after I mentioned his place of employment–which is on full display on his profile–he blocked me. Unfortunately for the deputy, screenshots are forever.
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We all come across plenty of ignorant comments on social media every day, but this comment was particularly concerning. Burst is tasked with keeping the Jefferson Parish safe and in order to do that, he has to forge a bond with the people he is policing. Instead, he has chosen to go on social media, while representing the sheriff’s office and lob accusations at people without having any evidence to support his claims.
Let’s for a second pretend we live in an alternate reality where assuming black men stole something isn’t racist and give Burst the benefit of doubt. Maybe he was really not being racist at all but instead accusing people of felony theft by just looking at a video. A police officer is supposed to deal only in facts and clearly, he is not doing that. Is that what he does when he is patrolling the streets? Does he look at black men driving, assume they stole the car they are driving and then pull them over to investigate? Or does he limit his inflammatory assertions to Facebook?
Is this what the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office teaches its officers? Because this is pretty alarming. At worst they have a vocal racist on their police force, at best they have an officer who judges people based on his own factless assumptions. Either way not looking too good for the sheriff’s department.
If you are as disgusted as we are by Deputy Burst’s comment, meander on over to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page and let them know how you feel.