A Palm Beach Sheriff’s deputy has earned a spot in the unemployment line after authoring a series of racist social media posts dating back to 2013.
Deputy Jason Van Dunsen was relieved of his duties last week after a third-party agency unearthed the offensive posts, including a now-deleted tweet featuring a photo of former First Lady Michelle Obama next to a character from 1968 movie “The Planet of the Apes,” the Miami Herald reported. Van Dunsen’s Twitter account and user handle “@angrythrashdude” have also been deleted.
The deputy’s sudden firing mirrors that of disgraced comedienne Roseanne Barr, whose titular sitcom was pulled off the air after she also compared former Obama aide Valerie Jarett to an ape from the classic movie.
Van Dunsen’s posts also took aim at Black women and Muslims, who he frequently made his targets. In 2015, the former deputy exchanged words with a Black female who referenced police brutality by tweeting, “Reminder – if I die in police custody, I did not kill myself.”
“A new contender arises!” Van Dunsen wrote in response.
That same year, he addressed the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. with a tweet that read, “I’d say we have more of a Muslim problem than a gun problem.”
The incendiary tweets may have never been brought to public attention had it not been for Everett Stern, the founder and director of Pennsylvania-based intelligence agency Tactical Rabbit. Sheriff’s office officials were made aware of the posts after Stern’s agency discovered them and alerted detectives, according to The Sun-Sentinel.
“To be frank, we have never heard of a law enforcement officer post such an extreme level of racist remarks against African Americans, Muslims, Jews, and Women,” he wrote in a letter to Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, which included screengrabs of Van Dunsen’s posts. “The posts below are just a sample, but the thousands of overall posts also concern defamatory remarks against government officials including the President of the United States.”
This isn’t the first time the deputy’s comments have landed him in hot water. NBC Miami reported that Van Dunsen was suspended once before in 2014 for similar social media posts. He was benched for just two days, however.
Stern claims that most of the social media posts were authored while Van Dunsen was on duty and that there are at least 10 other deputies who interacted with the disgraced deputy on social media, the Sun Sentinel reported. He’s since called for an investigation into civil rights violations and possible obstruction of justice charges.
“We know who they are,” he said.