A veteran police chief in Ohio is off the job after surveillance footage appeared to show him leaving a racist note on the desk of a Black officer, local news outlets reported.
Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring announced that Chief of Police Anthony Campo had resigned from his role with the department after admitting that he had placed a note bearing the words “Ku Klux Klan” on the desk of an unidentified Black officer who had only been with the department for eight months. Campo had been with the department for approximately 33 years, spending the last eight as chief.
Surveillance video from June 25 shows a hooded yellow rain jacket laid out on the Black officer’s desk. Campo then walks over and places the white “Klan” sign on top of the jacket, then exits the room and waits as the Black officer enters and sees the jacket and racist sign. The video does not have audio, but the officer appears to laugh when he sees what Campo had laid out on the desk. Several other people then come in and out of the office and see the sign.
In a Thursday interview with the Lorain, Ohio Morning Journal, Mayor Bring said that the police union’s law director David Graves came to his office on Tuesday and hand-delivered a printed complaint about the incident.
Bring said the complaint included additional details about what transpired, including how Campo printed the note himself on the department’s copier.
“It said Ku Klux Klan on the back. I don’t know how much more offensive you can possibly get. And (Campo) thought it was a joke. He continues to think it,” Bring told the Journal. “[Campo] said, ‘I don’t understand what everybody’s all upset about. This was just a joke.’ I don’t know what was going through that man’s mind. I don’t have a clue. And like I said, that’s what he keeps saying. I think everybody else’s views of what he did is not a joke.”
Bring immediately placed Campo on administrative leave and said he initially planned on firing him before deciding to let him put in his retirement papers.
The mayor also said that he was discouraged by Campo’s attitude when he went to the department to discuss the incident with the chief.
“I said I didn’t even want to hear about it. I said ‘You got ten minutes to get out of your office. You already have admitted to it. I want your keys and badge. That’s it. Get out,’” Bring told nearby Cleveland, Ohio NBC affiliate WKYC-TV about his meeting with Campo.
“I asked [the chief] if he was psychologically okay and he said, ‘Absolutely,’” Bring added. “He also made a cone out of a newspaper and put it on himself and he said, ‘You will have to wear this.'”
Mayor Bring told the television station that he also met with the Black officer. He said the meeting was so emotional that no one spoke for the first ten minutes.
“It took us 10 minutes to even talk to each other because we were both so emotional,” Bring said. “I apologized. We talked about it, and as we did, he told me more about it. I was flabbergasted. There’s no one word to explain how disgusting this is.”
Bring said the unidentified officer had retained an attorney but has not yet decided whether to take legal action.
After the incident, ex-Chief Campo told WKYC that the entire incident was being “overblown” and said that he believed there were people in the department that had been trying to bring him down.
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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