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'Jungle monkey' e-mail jeopardizes Boston officer's job

  • Story Highlights
  • Boston police officer sends mass e-mail protesting column on Henry Gates
  • Officer Justin Barrett calls Gates "banana-eating," uses "jungle monkey" 4 times
  • Barrett calls Boston Globe columnist "a hot little bird with minimal experience"
  • Source says police chief wants Barrett fired; he is on paid administrative leave
By Jason Kessler
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(CNN) -- A Boston, Massachusetts, police officer who sent a mass e-mail in which he referred to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as "banana-eating" and a "bumbling jungle monkey" has been placed on administrative leave and faces losing his job.

Officer Justin Barrett, 36, who is also an active member of the National Guard, sent an e-mail to some fellow Guard members, as well as the Boston Globe, in which he vented his displeasure with a July 22 Globe column about Gates' controversial arrest.

The columnist, Yvonne Abraham, supported Gates' actions, asking readers, "Would you stand for this kind of treatment, in your own home, by a police officer who by now clearly has no right to be there?"

In his e-mail, which was posted on a local Boston television station's Web site, Barrett declared that if he had "been the officer he verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC [oleoresin capsicum, or pepper spray] deserving of his belligerent noncompliance."

Barrett used the "jungle monkey" phrase four times, three times referring to Gates and once referring to Abraham's writing as "jungle monkey gibberish."

He also declared he was "not a racist but I am prejudice [sic] towards people who are stupid and pretend to stand up and preach for something they say is freedom but it is merely attention because you do not get enough of it in your little fear-dwelling circle of on-the-bandwagon followers."

According to a statement from Boston police, Commissioner Edward Davis took action immediately upon learning of Barrett's remarks, stripping the officer of his gun and badge. Barrett is "on administrative leave pending the outcome of a termination hearing."

CNN has been unable to reach Barrett for comment.

Davis wants Barrett, a two-year veteran of the Boston police force, fired, a source close to the investigation said. But Barrett will continue to be paid while on administrative leave, and no date has been set for his termination hearing.

Barrett, who identified himself as a veteran and a former English teacher, also took issue with Abraham's journalistic ability, calling her "a hot little bird with minimal experience in a harsh field," as well as "an infidel." The rambling e-mail also suggested that she "should serve me coffee and donuts on Sunday morning," later returning to that line of thought with, "I like a warm cruller and hot Panamanian, black. No sugar."

The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association was also quick to condemn the comments, describing them as "offensive and hurtful." The organization sought to assure citizens that "these statements are not representative of the ideals held by the dedicated police officers who make up this proud association."

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