July 29, 2009 07:35 PM
By Matt Collette, Globe Correspondent
An officer in the Boston Police Department was suspended yesterday for allegedly writing a racially charged e-mail about Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. to colleagues at the National Guard, a law enforcement official said. Mayor Thomas M. Menino compared the officer to a cancer and said he is "gone, g-o-n-e'' from the force.
The law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Officer Justin Barrett referred to the black scholar as a " jungle monkey" in the letter, written in reaction to media coverage of Gates's arrest July 16.
Barrett, a 36-year-old who has been on the job for two years, was stripped of his gun and badge yesterday and faces a termination hearing in the next week, said police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll. He has no previous disciplinary record, she said.
"Yesterday afternoon, Commissioner Davis was made aware that Officer Barrett was the author of correspondence which included racially charged language," she said. "At that time, Commissioner Davis immediately stripped Officer Barrett of his gun and badge, and at this time we will be moving forward with the hearing process."
Barrett will receive legal representation from Boston Police Patrolmen's Assocation, the police officer's union. A woman who answered the phone at the police association said that union president Thomas J. Nee was not available for comment, but said he would be releasing a statement this evening.
Barrett could not immediately be reached for comment.
Menino said he was angry when Davis informed him of the incident Tuesday night. Of the suspended officer, Menino said he told Davis: "He has no place in this department and we have to take his badge away. That stuff doesn't belong in our city and we're not going to tolerate it.''
The mayor stressed that the incident was about one officer, and ''one officer doesn't make up a police department."
Menino, speaking to the Globe before an evening event in the South End, said he hadn't seen the e-mail Menino said while the officer is not officially terminated, he might as well be "He's gone, g-o-n-e. I don't care, it's like cancer, you don't keep those cancers around."