They're Now Calling It "The Imus Virus"

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After the Killing Imus with Kindness piece, a flurry of media coverage, strong opinions from NBC employees and a public debate, Don Imus was taken off the air for his slurs. But a few days later, on April 15th, not much had changed.

At a Brooklyn precinct, three female police officers were ordered to stand up during roll call from their police sergeant who referred to the female officers as "hos". Two of the woman officers were African-American and the other Latina, and all three refused to stand up.

Another officer was reported to have called out, “No, sergeant, not just hos, but nappy-headed hos.”

The incident happened at the 70th Precinct, which was the same district that became known for the 1997 incident in which Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was sodomized by police officers with a broken broomstick.

The three women, Tronnette Jackson, 36, Karen Nelson, 31, and Maria Gomez,

29, were attending a routine roll call session when Sgt. Carlos Mateo, referring to them, said, “Stand up, hos.”

The women remained silent, and seated, and later complained to the precinct’s integrity control officer and hired a lawyer, Bonita Zelman. Next, they filed a complaint in federal court, protesting that the degrading comments at roll call was an act of illegal discrimination against them based on their gender and ethnic background.

The department has transferred Sergeant Mateo out of the 70th Precinct who will no longer be in a supervisory role, while both he and the other officer could have disciplinary charges brought against them.

Write and tell us what you think. What should have happened to these officers? Was their punishment enough? What is our responsibitlity as a society around racial injustice? What is the role of the media in situations such as these?

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