The recently fired Oakland police officer accused of posting racist messages to Facebook a dozen years ago tearfully denied having authored the statements that appeared to often target Black people and Guatemalans with slurs and expletives.
The officer’s Facebook page included repeated uses of the N-word and described a “hate” for Black people, according to posts that were captured by Univision. The 30-year-old officer, Jocelyn Chang Newman, was a February 2023 graduate of the police department’s 190th Basic Recruit Academy and had been working on patrol, though it’s unclear where in the city she worked.
In a phone interview Friday, Chang Newman wept while adamantly denying having made the posts — blaming them instead on her ex-husband, with whom she shares three children. She said access to her Facebook account had been limited at times by him during a marriage plagued by abuse, and that she could think of no other way those statements would have appeared online.
“The way I’m being portrayed is not who I am,” Chang Newman said. “How am I going go say something so messed up if my brother is half-Guatemalan, half-Mexican? I don’t agree with any of the statements. I don’t agree with the statements saying ‘I hate Black people.’ I don’t. And honestly, anyone that knows me well enough or has seen me, they don’t perceive me that way, because I’m not that way. I don’t act like that.”
“I just don’t have the words, because I’m speechless,” she added. “The way I’m being painted is not who I am.”
The messages obtained by Univision spanned from at least summer 2012 to spring 2013, and included multiple references to Black people as “ignorant.” They also appeared to repeatedly target people from Guatemala, describing “anything tainted” by people from that country as “nasty.”
“Exactly why I f—ing hate black ppl always have to take from hard working ppl/families that’s why karma lands them in a grave,” read one of the messages posted to Facebook in August 2012.
The Oakland Police Department said on Wednesday it had launched an internal affairs investigation on Feb. 2, immediately after a media outlet brought the alleged statements to its attention. OPD said it was working with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to investigate “any and all cases” that may be impacted by the officer’s alleged conduct.
“We’re going to do every single thing we can to get to the bottom of this,” Interim Assistant Chief Trevelyon Jones said in a recorded statement. “We have to have people here at the Oakland Police Department that love Oakland and care about the community. We cannot have people here who hold racist, hateful views serving our community.”
Chang Newman was on probationary status at the time of her firing, because she had yet to complete a full year of service. The employment status in Oakland stretches for 12 months and leaves people on it without many of the same abilities as full-fledged officers to fight firings, including a disciplinary hearing. Her termination on Feb. 2 came a day before the one-year anniversary of her academy graduation.
Prior to joining OPD, she had a license to work as a security guard in San Francisco, state records show.
The Oakland Police Officers’ Association declined to comment. Michael Rains, an attorney who represents the Oakland Police Officers Association, said that his firm generally does not represent people who are fired while on probationary status.
Chang Newman said she was searching for an attorney to fight the dismissal.
“I want to clear my name, that’s all I want,” she added. “Because the truth has to come out. And this has just blown out of proportion.”
The discovery of the postings added to a long list of racist messaging scandals to hit the Bay Area in recent years, including within the Oakland Police Department’s own ranks.
At least seven Oakland police officers were disciplined in 2021 after the discovery of an Instagram account created by a fired Oakland officer that included memes that were sexist, racist and mocked efforts to curb police brutality. The account drew a following among numerous active Oakland police officers. Yet Oakland police leaders waited months after its discovery in September 2020 to launch an investigation, thinking the account could be an “Antifa or BLM-type trap” or an effort by activists to “infiltrate” their department.
Outside investigators later criticized the department for its sluggish response, and the scandal became another key reason in 2022 that the department failed to shed its decades-long federal oversight.
Even the appearance of Jones this week in a video produced by the Oakland Police Department decrying the posts on Chang Newman’s Facebook page bore its own irony.
Jones and members of the department’s homicide unit were the subjects of a complaint filed about eight years ago by an Oakland sergeant over the alleged exchange of racist and homophobic text messages, sources told this newspaper back then. The scandal prompted city officials to recommend the suspension of two officers in a bid to root out what Oakland’s then-Mayor Libby Schaaf called a “toxic, macho culture” within the department.
Elsewhere in the East Bay, dozens of Antioch police officers were found to have sent or received deeply racist and homophobic texts that included references to Black people as “gorillas,” “monkeys” and “water buffalo” and boasts of violating residents’ civil rights.
And in the South Bay, a San Jose officer resigned after the discovery of racist text messages he wrote in recent years, including usage of the N-word and the proclamation “I hate Black people.” In January, city officials were ordered to disclose more damning text messages and the previously unreleased names of two officers connected to the scandal.
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