After pulling up beside a police patrol vehicle, a black woman spotted a plush toy in the back of the white officer’s car. Upon closer look, she determined that the stuffed animal was undeniably “racist” and reported it to the department. Now, an investigation is underway.
A woman, known as Devine Deva on Facebook, spotted an odd sight in the back of a local police patrol vehicle in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Shocked and outraged, the woman pulled out her cell phone and began recording, immediately accusing the officer of harboring racial animosity toward “black men” in the community.
Within hours, the woman’s video went viral on Facebook, garnering the attention of the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD). Now, thanks to the woman’s accusation and the subsequent uproar on social media, an internal investigation into the stuffed toy’s alleged racist meaning was launched at taxpayers’ expense.
Devine Deva ranted in her short upload that the white officer had apparently placed the offensive stuffed animal in the back of the patrol car as a blatant display of his racial bias. The toy in question is a stuffed monkey with dreadlocks and a colorful rasta cap, Blue Lives Matter reports.
“Okay, so ya’ll – this is the police,” the woman said in the video. “Do ya’ll see this? In the back of they car, yo?…They whole live got a monkey, right there ya’ll…that’s crazy.”
WSPD Chief Catrina Thompson was ultimately made aware of the incident after the woman’s video had accrued international attention and outrage. As such, Chief Thompson launched an internal investigation into the complaint, which quickly rendered the answers citizens were demanding.
Chief Thompson explained that the plush monkey was part of a collection of donated stuffed toys that officers use to comfort children who have suffered trauma due to various tragedies. The toys are strategically placed “on the front bracket of the protective shield” of the patrol cars so that officers can quickly and easily access the objects.
“The Winston-Salem Police Department has equipped all of our Patrol Cars with stuffed animals for over 20 years,” the chief noted in the release. “The stuffed animals are regularly donated to the WSPD by various organizations and individuals for the primary purpose of calming children that have been traumatized by violent acts, vehicle crashes, fires, or any other type of trauma that may have occurred to a child.”
The department released a series of images showing the toys that were inside the officer’s patrol vehicle at the time. The stuffed monkey accompanied three different bears, which had all been donated by community members. Such toys have been used by the department for over 20 years and have proven to help calm distressed child victims, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
“The stuffed animals have proven to be a successful initiative for the WSPD,” Chief Thompson wrote. “We have taken administrative actions to change the appearance of the display of the stuffed animal, specifically the ‘monkey’ to ensure no one else is offended. I assure you this will not reoccur.”
The department apologized to the public and explained that the stuffed monkey has been removed from the patrol vehicle and will not be used in the future. Chief Thompson assured that the department understands the seriousness of the issue and has taken steps to ensure that such an issue will not happen again.
“As I stated earlier, we have taken administrative action to remove the ‘monkey’ stuffed animal from the Patrol Vehicle and ensure a display such as that seen in the video, will not reoccur. I apologize again to anyone offended during this incident, as the women and men of your Winston-Salem Police Department work tirelessly to gain your trust and confidence, as well as build relationships and partnerships with all members of our community,” Chief Thompson wrote.
Upon discovering that the stuffed toys were used to soothe traumatized children, Devine Deva who had recorded the incident doubled down on her accusations of systematic racism. She maintains that white police officers are routinely oppressing black citizens and that the stuffed animal was merely a sign of this bias.
“They will never understand because they have never been offended in so many different ways as blacks have; not only with words but animals as well,” she wrote on Facebook. “The ignorance of those are shown by their words for anyone to say that there is nothing wrong with a monkey with a Rastafarian hat and locs in the back of a caucasian males police car has a underlined truth that they are not willing to except. They are excepting that there are still racist acts that are being shown day in and out time and time aging against our black community they are saying it’s ok if you do it cause we feel the same way (they just hope we don’t catch on to it). They tell you ‘If you see something say something.’ So I did.”
The department has removed the monkey and apologized for the offensive it caused. Still, the same complainers who voiced their outrage over the stuffed animal continue to rant and rave.
Disturbingly, this woman’s unfounded assumption of racism has cost the taxpayers money and incited anger and suspicion toward a police officer. Sadly, frivolous conspiracies like these often end in innocent people losing their reputations, careers, and even their lives.