BR Mayor, police chief apologize for decades-old blackface photo of officers

Updated: Feb. 11, 2019 at 10:09 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge’s mayor and police chief both issued statements Monday condemning actions taken by the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) more than two decades ago.

A photo recently circulated on social media shows two BRPD officers, one current and one now retired, dressed in plain clothes with parts of their bodies and their faces painted black.

The officers were disguised as black men as they were sent out on a department-approved narcotics sting 26 years ago, the department said. The same men also dressed as women during prostitution stings during the same time period.

The city’s current police chief, Murphy Paul, apologized for the photograph Monday.

“Blackface photographs are inappropriate and offensive,” Chief Paul said “They were inappropriate then and are inappropriate today. The Baton Rouge Police Department would like to apologize to our citizens and to anyone who may have been offended by the photograph.”

Chief Paul said such undercover operations would not be allowed today.

“Today, we would not allow our officers to wear blackface in an official capacity under any circumstances. We have policies in place to prevent our officers from engaging in this type of behavior both on and off-duty.”

Current Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome also issued a statement Monday.

“While this may have been department-approved 25 years ago, that does not make it right,” the mayor said. “Blackface is more than just a costume. It invokes a painful history in this country and it is not appropriate in any situation.”

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