Cleveland Cop Who Praised Hitler Should Be Punished, US Jewish Groups Say
US Jewish groups are seeking an apology and sanctions following news that a Cleveland cop who was revealed to have made past antisemitic comments will keep his job.
Last week, Cleveland officials announced that police officer Ismail Quran, a former “Officer of the Year,” cannot be fired for saying “Let me salute to Hitler the great” and “Scumbag Yahoodi” on Twitter.
Explaining the decision, Mayor Justin Bibb and Chief of Police Wayne Drummond said the actions took place “years before he was hired.”
On Tuesday, Canary Mission, Stop Antisemitism, and Simon Wiesenthal Center, three groups that track and fight antisemitism around the world, said the outcome allows Quran to skirt accountability.
“The absence of action is the best outcome that Quran could have hoped four,” the groups said. “While he is undoubtedly pleased that his antisemitism was dismissed on a ‘technicality,’ the Jewish community is left to wonder — would officer Quran still be employed if he had posted other forms of bigotry?”
The groups urged Quran to apologize and asked the Cleveland Division of Police to strip him of his previous awards and issue a “statement of assurance” on his fitness for engaging with and protecting the Jewish community.
Quran has apologized, according to Cleveland Jewish News. On August 24, he expressed in a public letter shame and his aspiration to “show the person I have become.” He noted that his posts are from “approximately ten years ago.”
“These comments, resurfaced after being long thought deleted, were hurtful and came from a place of ignorance and pain,” he wrote. “As I write this letter, I am fully aware of the frustration it has caused members of a community that I have sworn to protect and serve.”
Commenting on the letter, the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director of its Cleveland office, James Pasch, said, “It is near impossible to walk back from such hateful rhetoric.”
In lieu of firing Quran, the Cleveland Division of Police is partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to train officers on best practices for investigating hate crimes and extremists and will require future hiring candidates to participate in “behavioral-based interviews.” It will also monitor the social media accounts of its officers.
Police stations have fired officers for spreading hate before they were hired. In October 2020, the Lafayette Police Department in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, sacked Joseph Zacharek after receiving a tip that exposed his membership in a global online network of neo-Nazis that disbanded three years before he became an officer.
In 2021, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of London terminated and jailed Benjamin Hannam after learning that he had actively participated in the neo-Nazi group National Action before joining law enforcement in 2018. Hannam concealed his past from background checkers, a crime for which he was charged with fraud. Investigators also discovered that he had procured information on making explosives and possessed “prohibited” images of children.
In 2015, a police officer, Lt. Josh Doggrell from Calhoun County, Alabama was removed from the force when the Southern Poverty Law Center Hatewatch blog reported that he joined a neo-Confederate organization as a college student twenty years earlier and continued engaging with it throughout his career. Doggrell sued the local government and contested the decision in court for two years, arguing that it violated his First Amendment Rights. In 2017, a federal judge ruled that his firing was justified.
In last week’s joint statement on Quran, Cleveland officials admitted said his case represents a “horrible example of explicit bias in our police force.”
“We cannot emphasize strongly enough that discrimination of any kind, against anyone, simply will not be tolerated,” Mayor Bibb and Chief Wayne continued.