A Baltimore police lieutenant has been suspended from the force after he sent out an email to his colleagues referring to Black Lives Matter protesters as "thugs."
Lt. Victor Gearhart, a 33-year veteran, reportedly made the controversial statement in an email to union members. The message surfaced just one day after protesters interrupted a police conference being held at a hotel in downtown Baltimore, WJZ-TV reported.
Gearhart's letter said, in part:
By now you have seen that the THUGS from Black Lives Matter and other similar groups have attempted to disrupt the State FOP Convention being held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Well today as check-in day with activities spread over the next 3 days so expect more bad behavior from the THUGS OF BALTIMORE. On the bright side maybe they will stop killing each other while they are protesting us.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said the commissioner was "outraged" by the email, adding, "It's something that we're constantly working on."
Smith made clear that, while Gearheart was serving as the police's union's vice president, he was not speaking for the majority of officers.
“This frustrated a number of people," Smith told WJZ-TV. "Calls have been coming in from officers about their outrage over this email.”
The news comes less than one week after a scathing Justice Department report accused the Baltimore police of showing racial bias and using excessive force.
The federal report was the result of a year-long investigation into one of the nation's largest police forces.
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