‘The stuffed animals have proven to be a successful initiative…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A North Carolina police department apologized for keeping a stuffed monkey in a patrol car after some residents claimed it was a symbol of racism.
“In the future, we will confirm our stuffed animals are not offensive,” Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thomson said, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. “I apologize to any community member that found this circumstance to be offensive.”
The controversy began when a local resident uploaded a video to Facebook of the stuffed monkey in a nearby police cruiser.
“This is the most racist thing I have ever seen,” the resident, who goes by the identity Divine Deva, said.
Thompson explained that police officers regularly keep stuffed animals in their cars to calm traumatized children they interact with.
There was no ill will behind the stuffed monkey, she said, but claimed she understood why people were upset.
The stuffed monkey appeared to have a hat and dreadlocks, which Deva said is representative of Rastafarian culture.
“It makes me question his intent toward the black men in my community,” Deva says in the video.
Thompson said that as soon as she heard about the video, she began a thorough investigation.
“I bring this episode to your attention in the spirit of transparency, because I realize that citizens have found the display of the monkey stuffed animal appearing to be riding in the rear seat of a marked patrol car to be offensive,” Thompson said. “The stuffed animals have proven to be a successful initiative for the [department]. We have taken administrative actions to change the appearance of the display of the stuffed animal, specifically the monkey, to ensure no one else is offended. I assure you this will not reoccur.”
Thompson also said her department will undergo additional sensitivity bias training.