Another round of emails released late Friday by the city of Chicago reveal more racist and sexist exchanges among some of the top officials in the Department of Water Management as recently as April a month before some were forced out.
Earlier emails, part of a months-long investigation by City Inspector General Joe Ferguson, led to Water Management Commissioner Barrett Murphy, Managing Deputy William Bresnahan and District Superintendent Paul Hansen losing their jobs.
The latest batch of emails contain homophobic slurs in addition to anti-black and anti-woman comments. Some of the most striking exchanges include an image of a scarecrow dressed in a KKK robe in a watermelon field, a picture of a nude woman used to celebrate “heterosexual male pride day” and comments mocking gays.
The email containing the KKK scarecrow was forwarded from Hansen to Murphy in July 2014 with the subject line “Watermelon Protection.” Included in the email, which Hansen had received from someone else, was the photo and this statement: “God is great, beer is good … and people are crazy. I’m guessing this would be considered politically incorrect.”
Hansen then added this: “I don’t understand.”
Another racist email Hansen shared with Murphy was sent in February 2013 in response to a request from ComEd for city employees to halt work near a power line serving a fire station, schools and a senior citizen home. “I think the only thing that the line does not feed is the center for the severely challenged negro midgets, you know the place, its where we hired all those laborers from 7 years ago,” Hansen wrote.
In an email Hansen received April 19, 2017 – just a month before he lost his job – there were pictures of steaks on a grill, beer taps on a bar and a woman bearing her breasts along with this message: “To all my friends who are tired of taking a BACK SEAT to gays, lesbians, homosexuals, trans genders, women soldiers, bra burners, female boy scouts, women libbers, tree huggers and eco-commie-environ-freaks, the looney left, Greens, social justice warriors and worse of all – those f—— democrats!
In yet another email, dated March 11, 2014, Hansen shared with Bresnahan a story about a 16-year-old Texas boy who purportedly won the world’s shortest essay competition by writing about religion, royalty, physical disability, racism and homosexuality. The email claimed the boy won a scholarship to a Texas university for writing this: “My God,” cried the Queen, “That one-legged n—– is a queer.”
When Hansen was asked Friday night if he would like to comment on the newly released emails, he said, “If you’re looking for a comment, you can forget it” and hung up. A voicemail message left for Murphy was not immediately returned.
Shannon Breymaier, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said in a statement the mayor is “fully supportive” of recently appointed Water Management Commissioner Randy Conner’s actions to provide additional EEO training to the department’s managers and supervisors.
Late last month, several current and former water department employees filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city and top Water Management officials of creating “a hostile and abusive work environment based on race that includes violence, intimidation (and) retaliation,” the Sun-Times reported.