The Cambridge Police Department is investigating racist and other problematic tweets from a lieutenant’s personal account, authorities said.
The department called them “deeply disturbing social media statements,” in a statement to Boston.com on Tuesday.
“While the department recognizes that employees have a right to free speech under the First Amendment, the department will not tolerate statements that are inflammatory, discriminatory and/or disrespectful to any individuals, races or ethnicities that are linked in any way to an officer’s employment as a Cambridge Police Officer.”
The lieutenant suspected of using the account, Shawn Lynch, hasn’t been on duty since May because of unrelated reasons, the city said.
The account, which appeared to included the lieutenant’s badge number, has been deleted. Tweets from the account targeted U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who is Black; referred to the Democratic Party as “American Jihadists”; and included retweets of posts critical of Black Lives Matter.
The use of the word “jihadists” in the wrong context is “laden with stereotyping,” said John Robbins, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has offered to conduct anti-racism training for the department.
“Assuming that the Twitter account in question does indeed belong to the officer in question, as the CPD apparently suspects, we’re concerned about the officer’s crude and stereotyped reference to Islam, which may well carry over into his or her interactions with Muslim residents of Cambridge,” the civil rights group said in a statement.