Watch CBS News

Update: Antioch woman says racist text message scandal confirmed suspicions about city's police

Fallout continues in the wake of growing scandal surrounding racist Antioch police officer texts
Fallout continues in the wake of growing scandal surrounding racist Antioch police officer texts 04:22

ANTIOCH -- Outrage continues to grow among Antioch residents over a racist text message scandal that has dozens of police officers under the microscope.

The texts haven't officially been released yet, but copies were leaked Tuesday. The text messages were also the focus of a fiery Antioch City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe's anger boiled over during the meeting.

"I'm disgusted," he said. "I'm blown away that there were threats to my personal life in those text messages."

UPDATE: Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe defends his angry outburst over police racist text scandal

Thorpe is calling for the firing of all 24 officers linked to the investigation. The department is hiring an outside investigator to determine just how widespread the problem has become.

"Some things in life you want to be wrong. You don't want to be right about them," said longtime Antioch resident Gigi Crowder. 

Antioch resident Gigi Crowder
Antioch resident Gigi Crowder. CBS

She said the racist text messages confirmed what she already thought -- at times Antioch police officers were treating Black and Brown residents differently than her white neighbors.

"Sometimes you just need the validation. And as hard as it was to read the text messages, I read them. Because now you have it in proof, in black and white that it was taking place," said Crowder.

The racist text messages came to light as part of an FBI investigation into the Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments, alleging officers were distributing cocaine and steroids, accepting bribes, intentionally using excessive force, and violating people's civil rights.

Investigators say some of the officers were part of a text messaging group on their personal phones for years. In the group, they would congratulate each other for hurting people during arrests, and using the n-word repeatedly to talk about city residents.

"I know how racism impacts an individual's life," said Crowder during the public comment portion of Tuesday night's Antioch City Council meeting. 

She came specifically to talk about an incident that happened in 2007. She says her twin boys, who were 15 at the time, were in Hansen Park listening to music with three of their white friends. She says officers showed up and arrested only her sons for being in the park after dusk.

She says one of her son's is hearing impaired and couldn't understand the officers' commands, so the officer slammed him on the ground, bloodied his face and shoved his knee onto his back. She always questioned whether that treatment was racially motivated.

"You're breaking dreams, and I didn't even really start realizing that until it was validated by the text messages," she said, trying to hold back tears.

Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford was hired only a year ago and was not with the department at the time of the scandal. He says main focus is to change the culture of the department and regain public trust.

"That kind of speech is hurtful to anybody. And it's divisive and there's really no place for it, in policing for sure, but just in society in general," said Chief Ford.

Crowder says while the easiest thing would be to move away, she's committed to staying and helping the community bridge the racial divide.

"The core human values that we carry that there are more similarities than differences. And if we can do it anywhere, we should be able to do it here in Antioch," she says.

Almost a quarter of the officers in the department are now part of this investigation. Chief Ford says some of the officers under investigation have already resigned, others are on administrative leave, and the rest are still working in the department but are not in public-facing roles.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.