An embattled South Florida police chief – already serving a 30-day unpaid suspension for using city computers to share racist, tasteless Internet jokes with his command staff, including one E-mail suggesting President Obama should have been shot by his own honor guard – resigned Tuesday.
A city investigation determined that Wilton Manors Police Chief Richard E. Perez distributed 86 messages with “inappropriate content” using the city’s E-mail system during a four-month period this spring and summer. According to a South Florida Times  report published on its website today, Perez was given a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum from City Manager Joseph Gallegos after an internal probe detected that Perez also violated the city’s leave policy.
Perez’s resignation comes in the wake of reporting by veteran South Florida Times reporter Elgin Jones. Jones’ investigative work uncovering racist and offensive E-mails sent by city officials has been causing a stir in Wilton Manors, which abuts Fort Lauderdale, for more than two years. The weekly publication is the region’s most influential African-American community newspaper.
One E-mail from Perez’ account, sent on May 27 to his second in command, Capt. Dorris “Dee” Seibert, contained a short audio file in which a man with a pronounced African-American dialect delivers a cheerful greeting. “Good mornin’ ma’am! And iddn’t it a lovely morning?” to which a white-sounding woman replies, “Up yours, nigger!”
Another, sent by Perez on July 21 – entitled, “Urban schools are finally starting to teach practical math that these kids can use in real-world situations!” – abounded with racial stereotypes demeaning blacks and Hispanics: “Lajames has an AK-47 with a 200-round clip. He usually missed 6 of every 10 shots and he uses 13 rounds per drive-by shootin. How many mofos can Lajames ice on a drive-by before he gotta reload? … Leroy has 2 ounces of cocaine. If he sells an 8 ball to Antonio for $320 and 2 grams to Juan for $85 per gram, what be the street value of the rest of his shit? … Dwayne pimps 3 ho’s. If the price is $85 per trick, how many tricks per day must each ho turn to support Dwayne’s $800 per day Crack habit?” Six other “test questions” were included.
Obama was a frequent target of the jokes and insults traded among Perez and his subordinates. One E-mail to Perez from Sgt. Peter Bigelsen read, “I sat, as did millions of other Americans, and watched as the government under went a peaceful transition of power a year ago. At first, I felt a swell of pride and patriotism while Barack Obama took his oath of office. However, all that pride quickly vanished as I later watched 21 Marines, in full dress uniform with rifles, fire a 21-gun salute to the President. It was then that I realized how far America’s military had deteriorated. Every damn one of them missed the bastard.”
Another e-mail Perez forward to his command staff on July 23 said, “A little boy said to his mother, ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white.’ His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there, Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”
All of the available samples of Perez’s E-mails had a singular political slant – against liberals in general and Obama specifically. They ranged from the mildly funny – “Q: What was the most positive result of the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program? A: It took 95% of the Obama bumper stickers off the road.” (E-mail of April 21; joke attributed to David Letterman) – to mean-spirited: An E-mail with the subject line, “Stupid is as stupid does,” contained a photograph purportedly showing Barack and Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony saluting with their left hands over their hearts. (Stupid, in that case, might better apply to anyone who believed the doctored photograph was genuine: Snopes.com and other urban-legend sites busted the hoax by turning up the unaltered original photo, and others taken at the same time, showing the Obamas saluting correctly.)