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Cops called ‘racist’ in North Carolina city for toy monkey with dreadlocks in cruiser

This is a scene from the video that showed a stuffed monkey with dreadlocks in the back of a Winston-Salem squad car.
This is a scene from the video that showed a stuffed monkey with dreadlocks in the back of a Winston-Salem squad car. Facebook screenshot

Police officials in one of North Carolina’s largest cities apologized this week after critics said a stuffed monkey with deadlocks in the back of a squad car was a “racist” display.

Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson issued a lengthy explanation and apology Monday about the toy, noting patrol cars carry stuff animals to help calm children in traumatic situations, WFMY reported.

“In the future, we will confirm our stuffed animals are not offensive. I apologize to any community member that found this circumstance to be offensive,” the station quoted Thompson as saying in the release.

The apology was issued after an internal investigation determined the officers involved had “no ill intent,” WXII reported.

Complaints about the toy began showing up on Facebook Monday morning. A woman calling herself “Divine Deva” posted a 24-second video showing a white officer in the passenger seat of the police car that had the stuffed monkey in the back. She asked that people share the video on social media.

“Y’all see this in the back of their car...It’s the most racist thing I have ever seen. That’s crazy,” she says in the video, which has been viewed about 3,700 times.

In a series of followup posts, “Divine Deva” acknowledged stuffed animals in police cars may help traumatized children, but said it was in poor taste to include a “monkey with a Rastafarian hat and locks in the back of a Caucasian male’s police vehicle.”

“It makes me question his intent towards the black men and women in my community,” she posted.

“They will never understand because they have never been offended in so many different ways as blacks have... A monkey with a Rastafarian hat and locs in the back of a Caucasian male’s police car has a underlined truth that they are not willing to except.”

Chief Thompson told the Winston-Salem Journal she learned of the complaint the same day it was posted online “and immediately began to investigate.”

The monkey was one of “several stuffed animals” in the squad car, all of which were “donated to police by various organizations,” the newspaper reported.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.
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