Mass. officer fired after using racial slur in Manchester
By DOUG ALDEN New Hampshire Union Leader
A Massachusetts police officer accused of yelling a racial slur at Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford before a minor league game in New Hampshire was fired Thursday.
John Perreault has a history of making racially offensive statements, Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella said in a letter informing Perreault he had been terminated.
“Your actions are so egregious that severe discipline is warranted,” Mazzarella wrote. “There is simply no place for your behavior in the workplace and there is no place for someone who exhibits such objectionable behavior in the Leominster Police Department.”
Perreault was off-duty July 5 at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats game against the Portland Sea Dogs in Manchester, where Crawford began a rehabilitation assignment with Boston’s Double-A affiliate. Crawford, who is black, was signing autographs in front of the dugout when he said he heard a racial slur from a heckler in the stands. The comment was traced to Perreault, who acknowledged he referred to Crawford as a “Monday,” but said he did not mean it in a racial context, attorney Joseph Sandulli said Thursday.
Mazzarella held a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, which Perreault attended with Sandulli. Perreault chose not to testify.
Sandulli said that Perreault had already spoken with Police Chief Robert Healey and did not feel it was necessary to speak again at the hearing.
“The mayor had said publicly he was going to fire him, so it wasn’t a surprise for either of us,” Sandulli said.
The term “Monday” has multiple derogatory connotations, according to the Urban Dictionary; one is a racist statement toward African-Americans. Other uses are based on the general dislike of the first day of the work or school week.
Sandulli said his client was using the term to criticize Crawford, a high-priced free agent who had a disappointing first year with the Red Sox in 2011 and missed the first half of this season with injuries, as a baseball player.
“He understands it to mean something of poor quality, something bad, something disagreeable,” Sandulli said. “The chief pulled one meaning out that claimed it had a racial connotation.”
Crawford felt it was racial and said so after the game in Manchester. A Red Sox spokeswoman said Thursday the club would have no comment on Perreault’s firing.
Mazzarella said Perreault’s use of “Monday” toward Crawford was clearly racial. He noted that Perreault wrote about his actions on Facebook.
“Your Facebook page included racially insensitive content and a post by you that your calling Mr. Crawford a ‘Monday’ was ‘PRICELESS,’” Mazzarella wrote.
“I have concluded that, based upon the other incidents where you uttered racist remarks, that you called Mr. Crawford a ‘Monday’ because he is African-American, not simply because you do not care for him as a baseball player,” Mazzarella said.
In the letter dated Thursday, Mazzarella noted several instances when Perreault was accused of using racist language, including referring to African-Americans as “N......” at a bar during NBA season.
Sandulli said the city did not provide the name of the witness who said Perreault used the term; the lawyer questioned the validity of other incidents Mazzarella listed in the letter.
Sandulli said he is considering options for an appeal and should have a decision within 10 days, the deadline if Perreault chooses to go through the civil service commission.
Mazzarella, a former Leominster patrol officer, said Perreault’s actions violated department policy and were grounds for termination.
“As a sworn police officer, you are held to a higher standard. Your actions have not lived up to that high standard,” Mazzarella wrote. “You have demonstrated through your racist comments that you cannot continue as a patrol officer with the Leominster Police Department.”
New Hampshire Sunday News Writer Michael Cousineau contributed to this report.