Police union boss blasted for saying n-word is same as 'goddamn': 'Why don't you ask a black pastor?'
San Antonio police's Mike Helle defended the reinstatement of an officer who had initially been fired for repeatedly using the N-word during an arrest
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: President of the San Antonio Police Officers Association was slammed after he implied that an officer using the N-word was the same as the city's mayor using the word "goddamn" during one of his speeches.
Mike Helle, the longtime president of the police union, made the comments to the San Antonio Express-News while discussing several cases in which officers who had been fired for serious misconduct were then returned to the force by third-party arbitrators.
One of those cases involved Tim Garcia, who had been fired after he was heard repeatedly using the N-word on a handcuffed prisoner, on body camera, in 2018. An arbitrator had subsequently reduced Garcia's punishment to a 10-month suspension and he is already back on patrol. Helle defended Garcia and said his attempted firing was "case in point" of Chief William McManus trying to "rule as if he's a monarch."
"Garcia said, 'Look, I shouldn’t have said it, it was a lapse in my moment,'" Helle said. "And if anybody knows a lapse in a moment when they lose their composure, our mayor (Ron Nirenberg) said the exact same offensive like cuss word when he used the word G-D (goddamn) when he was on TV in front of the entire crowd and audience, right?"
Helle was referring to a moment from earlier this month when San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told a crowd in the city protesting police violence to hold him accountable for officers' behavior. "Hold me accountable... I'm the mayor of this goddamn city and we're going to make change together," he said. Asked if he did indeed think that 'goddamn' was just as offensive as the N-word, Helle replied in the affirmative. "For me, yes, it is," the union president said. "Why don’t you go ask one of our pastors or anybody that that’s their faith?"
Social media users weren't too happy with Helle's comparison and said he was trying to minimize the Black Lives Matter movement.
"Police Unions make a violent, unaccountable police culture possible and people like Mike Helle are how unions stay in power," one user wrote.
"Mike Helle claimed the word 'goddamn' is as offensive as the n-word and challenged @chasnoff to ask faith leaders their opinions," a second tweeted. "I'm now wondering what answer helle would receive if he asked a black pastor the same question."
"Someone should tell goddamn @SAPOA_PRES Mike Helle that a word that blasphemes a fictional god is nowhere near the level of a word that devalues an entire, and very real, race," a third posted.
"@SAPOA_PRES Mike Helle should resign for stupidity! these two words are entirely different and one word is not only offensive but shows hate and racism!" another said.
Helle had confirmed last week to KSAT that he would be stepping down from his position when his term ends in February and that he would also retire from the San Antonio Police Department with the rank of detective. He said he had made the decision to not seek another term months ago.