BPD Textgate Scandal
What is the BPD Textgate Scandal?
In November 2022, racist, anti-homeless text message chains were revealed in the Berkeley Police Department Bike Force
On November 14th, disturbing screen shots from a Berkeley Police Department (BPD) group chat, including members of the Department’s downtown bike task force, were released to the public.
Snapshots of the conversation reveal a culture of racism, profound anti-homeless sentiment, systemic overtime abuse and a policy of arrest quotas, which are illegal under California law.
In the leaked images, Sgt Darren Kacalek, president of the Police Union, jokes about a new viral strain of COVID killing unhoused people, mocks people of color’s use of social welfare systems and encourages his subordinates to meet a 100 arrest a month quota.
What are our concerns?
A culture of racism and profound anti-homeless sentiment in the BPD
Systemic overtime abuse and a policy of arrest quotas, which are illegal under California law
Targeting of marginalized people in an effort to create inflated arrest statistics
Overtime used as an incentive to reward cops who increased their arrest statistics
The sheer number of arrests made by the Bike Force
Biases in arrests based on race, class, housing status
Lack of action and oversight on the part of BPD authority, particularly Interim Chief of Police Jen Louis, regarding this abuse
How is Copwatch responding?
What we've done -
We put pressure on the City Council, helping to postpone the confirmation of Jen Louis as Chief of Police.
What we're doing -
We are now in a process of gathering information and looking for plaintiffs for a class-action lawsuit.
We are also working on demands for BPD following this incident.