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Baton Rouge police detectives seen wearing blackface in 1993 photo



A photo taken of Baton Rouge Police Department detectives wearing blackface in 1993 has surfaced. The photo, from a police department yearbook, was first published by the local news organization The Rouge Collection by writer Gary Chambers.

The picture, captioned “soul brothers,” shows two officers, whose faces and hands have been darkened; they were allegedly part of an undercover narcotics operation, The Advocate reported.

“A preliminary review of the matter indicates the officers were working in an undercover capacity during a department-approved operation when the photos were taken,” according to a statement from the Baton Rouge Police Department‘s chief Murphy Paul. “The Advocate published a story about the operation on February 22, 1993.”

“Blackface photographs are inappropriate and offensive,” Paul continued. “They were inappropriate then and are inappropriate today. The Baton Rouge Police Department would like to apologize to our citizens and to anyone who may have been offended by the photographs.”

Seven officers were involved in the narcotics sting, according to a 1993 story by The Advocate, which was described at the time by then-Police Chief Greg Phares as “very successful.” The sting, where fake crack cocaine was sold by officers, allegedly took place in a predominantly black neighborhood. The two black narcotics officers at the time were “too well known” to participate, The Advocate reported.

Read more: Director Spike Lee announced he’s boycotting Gucci and Prada over blackface scandals

Phares, who is now deputy chief at the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office, told The Advocate, “I have no problem whatsoever with that these officers did.”

The officers have been identified as Lt. Don Stone and police Capt. Frankie Caruso, by The Advocate. Caruso, who is now retired, said, “It wasn’t done offensively.”

Chief Paul said that officers would not be allowed to wear blackface as part of policework “under any circumstances,” but said that because the photos were taken more than two decades ago, “the department cannot apply existing policies to conduct that happened before the policies were in place.”

This photo surfaced as the nation — from politicians in Virginia and Florida, to multiple fashion brands— reckons with the use of blackface.

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