Lt. Victor Gearhart, who has faced discipline in the past for social media posts referring to BLM protesters as thugs, made his latest comments in an email Sunday night that reached the entire department, WMAR-TV reported.
“By now you have seen that the THUGS from BLM and other similar groups have attempted to disrupt the state FOP Convention being held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel,” the email read. “Well today was check-in day with activities spread over the next 3 days so expect more bad behavior from the THUGS OF BALTIMORE.”
He added, “On the bright side maybe they will stop killing each other while they are protesting us.”
“It’s a personnel matter that I am not at liberty to discuss, but I can tell you that the Police Commissioner was outraged at the language used in this email and the fact that it was distributed on departmental email,” Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said in an emailed statement.
“This is not representative of the agency and an internal investigation has been launched regarding this. Not only was the Police Commissioner outraged, but so were a number of other officers who complained about the email.”
The email followed demonstrations outside the Inner Harbor hotel hosting the four-day Maryland Fraternal Order of Police conference. Police arrested 12 protesters on trespassing charges after they chained themselves to an escalator inside the Hyatt, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Lt. Gearhart lost his patrol duties in January over his social media posts.The 33-year veteran of the force wrote tweets saying “THUGS always act like THUGS” and “demonstrators act like animals.”
The police commissioner said at the time that Gearhart’s remarks “do not reflect the values” of the department or those of “our great City” and demoted him to an overnight building security detail.
“I am not a spokesman for the F.O.P. Lodge 3. I am not a spokesman for the Police Department,” Gearhart, 59, told the Sun when his tweets surfaced in January. “I’ve never presented myself as such. It’s my private opinions.”
Representatives for the local police union also didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Roughly 60 protesters showed up for protests Sunday, many of them wearing T-shirts that read “Justice 4 Korryn Gaines.” A Baltimore County police officer serving an arrest warrant fatally shot the armed Gaines, a 23-year-old hairdresser, after a seven-hour standoff Aug. 1. The officer also shot her 5-year-old son, according to police.
Protest organizer Ralikh Hayes told the Sun the police union’s 79 chapters statewide should be disbanded.
“Our vision is a world where safety and security is not dependent on the enforcers of the state but rather where all people have access to quality food, shelter, health care and education and where racial, economic and gender equality flourish,” Hayes said.
A U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department released earlier this month foundwidespread discrimination against blacks. The report documented thousands of cases unjustified stops, arrests and abuse without punishment for the officers involved.
The D.O.J. started probing the department after the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody, which led to mass protests and rioting. None of the six officers charged in his death was convicted of any crimes.