Winston-Salem, NC – A stuffed, dreadlock-wearing monkey seen in the back of a Winston-Salem police patrol vehicle prompted an internal investigation, after citizens complained that the children’s toy was racist.
A woman who spotted the plush toy uploaded a video of the scene to Facebook, calling the monkey “the most racist thing [she had] ever seen.”
“Okay, so ya’ll – this is the police,” the woman said in the video. “Do ya’ll see this? In the back of they car, yo?...They whole live got a monkey, right there ya’ll…that’s crazy.”
The woman who posted the video said that the act made her “question [the officer’s] intent toward the black men” in her community, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) Chief Catrina Thompson launched an internal investigation into the incident after she was made aware of the citizens’ complaints, according to WFMY.
On Oct. 21, Chief Thompson issued a news release, explaining why the monkey and a stuffed bear had been placed in the front bracket of the patrol vehicle’s protective shield.
"The Winston-Salem Police Department has equipped all of our Patrol Cars with stuffed animals for over 20 years,” the chief noted in the release. “The stuffed animals are regularly donated to the WSPD by various organizations and individuals for the primary purpose of calming children that have been traumatized by violent acts, vehicle crashes, fires, or any other type of trauma that may have occurred to a child."
Chief Thompson apologized to anyone who “found this circumstance to be offensive,” and said the department will make it a point to “confirm our stuffed animals are not offensive” in the future.
She noted that the WSPD investigation determined that there was “no ill intent” with regards to having the plush monkey inside the patrol car, and that it has since been removed, WXII reported.
"I certainly understand why community members would be offended, and we work every day to continue building trust in the WSPD, as well as keeping you safe by attempting to reduce crime and the fear of crime,” the chief added, according to WFMY.