Broward News

Activists Protest Reinstatement of Cop Who Called Blacks "Hoodrats"

More than 30 activists attended a City Commission meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the reinstatement of Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Jeffery Feldewert, who was fired in June over racist Facebook comments and then brought back on the force last month. Six activists took to the podium to explain that officers like Feldewert cannot fairly serve the black community. All the commissioners listened and were receptive to the activists’ comments, and by the end, they got what they came for: a one-on-one meeting with Commissioner Dean Trantalis.

“It went really well,” Jasmen Rogers said after the meeting. “Racism in the police department is like a cancer, and it is time they cut it out instead of allowing it to fester and grow. It’s a detriment to the police department and the entire city.”

In June, Feldewert was fired over a handful of racist posts and comments on his Facebook. He posted a photo of a black man being arrested by white officers and wrote “Typical Hoodrat Behavior.” The caption read: “BLACK PEOPLE. Because without them the evening news wouldn’t be as much fun to watch.”

A profile photo showed a skull wrapped in an American flag with a Fort Lauderdale Police badge on the forehead. “Savage Hunter” was displayed beneath it. Police Chief Frank Adderley said the posts showed a lack of judgment and handed the veteran 45-year-old officer a dismissal letter.

Feldewert was the fifth Fort Lauderdale Police officer to be fired or resign this year over racist comments. In March, four officers were taken off the force after exchanging racist text messages and a video with racially charged slurs and images. Like Feldewert, they also called themselves “savage hunters.”

Adderley called the conduct “inexcusable” and said there is zero tolerance for it at Fort Lauderdale Police. Fort Lauderdale Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Jack Lokeinsky said his organization prides itself on its diversity and does not tolerate racism of any kind.

“I am very disappointed, disgusted, and shocked by this incident," Mayor Jack Seiler said at a news conference at the time. "The inappropriate racist behavior exhibited by those involved is unacceptable and reprehensible, it violates the trust we place in our law enforcement officers, it damages the bond we have established in our community, and undermines the standards in which each and every city employee is held accountable."

But then in August, Feldewert was reinstated, landing only a ten-day unpaid suspension and receiving back pay for the time he was out. The news was hard to hear for Rogers and other Black Lives Matter activists.

“It’s disappointing that another officer showing blatant racist behavior was allowed to get away with a slap on the wrist,” Roger said. “It’s upsetting as a black woman within this community. It’s terrible.”

At the meeting, activists demanded Feldewert’s gun and badge but also stressed that there need to be ways to prevent such systemic racism within the police department.

“At the end of the day, even if he is fired, there’s still the issue there,” Didier Ortiz, cochair of the Broward Green Party, said after the meeting. “It’s our job to have him fired, but there’s the more important goal to address police brutality and abuses of power and generate a law enforcement agency that is fully accountable.”

Commissioner Trantalis agreed to meet with the activists to explore the issue more. All the activists considered the meeting a success. They’re currently scheduling an appointment with Trantalis at City Hall. 
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson