Seven San Francisco police officers might lose their jobs over racist text messages they sent each other between 2011 and 2012, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
The text messages are reported to contain offensive comments about gay men, Filipinos, and Hispanics. Several of the officers involved in the scandal have worked in minority neighborhoods. The term "white power" is alleged to have been used multiple times.
One text reportedly reads: "All niggers must fucking hang." Another said: "Cross burning lowers blood pressure! I did the test myself!," according to The Guardian.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr called the texts "despicable" and said the individuals involved "clearly fall bellow the standards required to be a police officer," The Associated Press reported.
Lawyers for the officers maintain the texts do not represent their clients' true views and that they were just a way to cope with a stressful job.
One of the officers under investigation, Michael Robinson, a 23-year veteran, has resigned, while two of his colleagues have been reassigned to non-public-contact positions. However, the investigation might still result in the termination of their employment.
The texts came to light while authorities were carrying out an investigation on former police sergeant Ian Furminger, who was found guilty of corruption and sent to prison for three years.
Community and minority leaders are now worried the officers might have acted with prejudice when dealing with defendants, especially ones from black and minority backgrounds.
The San Francisco Police Association issued a statement saying the actions of the officers currently under investigation are not emblematic of the individuals it represents.
District Attorney George Gascon, said his office will review all of the officers' cases going back 10 years.
The scandal comes at a time of heightened tension between police and minority communities, as the fallout over high-profile police shootings in Ferguson and Cleveland continues to be felt around the country.