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Georgia cop asked to resign after colleagues offended by e-mail

October 4, 2001 

A suburban police officer was asked to resign after an e-mail he sent advocating the killing of millions of Arabs and suggesting the United States "eliminate the entire Arab world" if terrorism continues drew complaints from other law enforcement workers.

Ray Sanford, a police crime analyst in Griffin, made the comments just days after the Sept. 11 attacks on an e-mail discussion list he had created for law enforcement officers.

"I think 1,000 Arabs must die for each American killed," Sanford wrote. "If they continue their attacks we will simply eliminate the entire Arab world. It doesn't bother me a bit."

The message advocated starving the people of Afghanistan to death and bombing Mecca, the most holy city of Islam, so Muslims would be forced to pray "at a crater 25 miles across."

Sanford, 58, was asked to resign from the force after subscribers to the e-mail list complained to Police Chief Armand Chapeau.

Chapeau said Sanford had been a good employee in the year he worked at the department and apologized when he resigned Wednesday night.

The e-mail list is not officially tied to any law enforcement agency, but Sanford's message carried his professional e-mail signature, identifying him as a member of the Griffin police force.

On Thursday, Sanford told The Associated Press he sent the message before the U.S. government said evidence showed radical Islamic militants, not moderate Arab nations, were responsible for the attacks.

"I felt that an appropriate target would have been Mecca, in order to get the attention of the Muslim world that we were not going to put up with this kind of attack on U.S. soil," he said.

Workers throughout the country have been punished for sending offensive e-mail from company accounts or with work-related signatures.

In May, 19 patrol officers in Washington, D.C., were reassigned after they were suspected of sending offensive e-mail from their squad car computers.

Last year, The Dow Chemical Co. fired 50 workers and disciplined another 200 for e-mailing pornography and violent images from company computers.

Sanford acknowledged his message was inappropriate and said he lost his temper. But he declined to retract the message, saying it reflected how he felt in the emotional first few days after the attacks.

"I still don't think that what I said, if you look at the full context, I don't believe it met the qualifications for being a bigot or racially offensive."

By ERIN McCLAM, Associated Press, Copyright © 2001 Nando Media

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