They are harmless jokes to some and racism to others. The sheriff's department prohibits inappropriate emails. Something that even top commanders seem to ignore. Of course we wouldn't have known that if the sheriff's office had gotten away with destroying them.
Osama bin Laden is America's public enemy number one, so it's not surprising you'd find emails attacking him in a law enforcement agency.
But in this Harris County Sheriff's Department email, a top commander is "taking a poke back at the Muslims."
"Poking at Muslims, that title itself, is not very funny," said Dr. Aziz Siddiqui with the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.
We showed the emails to Dr. Siddiqui who is the past president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.
"This is…that's no good," he said.
It's a cartoon for 'Preparation M,' Islamic suppositories for prayer time relief.
There is a picture of a Muslim man's remote control for his wife with buttons to clean, feed camel and give me an AK-47.
"I don't mean to be politically incorrect, racist, or religion intolerant," one cartoon reads "I'm just tired of looking at [bleeping] Arabs."
"No one should make fun of other peoples belief," said
Misusing the image of Mohammed is blasphemous to Muslims.
"It's really sacred and people are really sensitive about it," said Houston businessman Azim Zakaria
There is a message for Muslims who can dish it out, but can't take it. This email shows a pig carved up with his head cut off, the image of Mohammed inscribed.
"I don't make fun of anyone else's religion," said Dr. Siddiqui. "I don't want anyone to make fun of my religion."
And look at this email:
"Perhaps we should be very suspicious of all MUSLIMS in our country; They obviously cannot be both "good Muslims and good Americans" SEE MORE
A quarter of a million Muslims live in Harris County.
"They are all good Americans," said Dr. Siddiqui. "Anyone implying anything else is totally wrong."
And when wildfires broke out in California last year, a sheriff's employee email to a top commander suggested fires would be the perfect terrorist attack. A top commander emailed another official, "we continue to under estimate these dumb foreigners."
His reply includes a reference to the, "number of foreigners who own gas stations."
"Actually it's pretty scary," said Zakaria.
Zakaria and his brother own a number of gas stations. During Hurricane Rita they opened to provide free gas to lawmen.
"My trust and confidence in the sheriff's department is very low now," he said.
This week community activity Quannel X led a march on the sheriff's office.
"The culture within this department is a very hateful one, bigoted one and this department must change," he told us at the protest.
Among the protestors were the brothers who sued the sheriff's office for civil rights violations and were spied on afterwards. It was a surveillance we discovered in the emails.
"It's sad we would have never been able to find out," said Sean Ibarra.
We showed the Ibarra brothers some of the emails we are now showing you.
This email detailed a drug arrest of "hard working Mexicans who do jobs Americans won't do. Let's give them more welfare money and raise your taxes to fund their free ride."
These pictures of a gator shot dead by state wildlife officials included this comment, "I think wardens made a huge mistake when they shot this beast. With a little planning they easily could have transplanted it to the Rio Grande River. That should have cut down on the illegal migration just a tad."
"Do they not have better things to do with our taxpayer dollars," asked Ibarra. "Everyone should share that sentiment if they don't, they are just sitting ducks."
And the sheriff remains silent.
"It is very much concern in the community that he is silent on this," said Houston councilmember MJ Khan.
Friday, top commanders, racist and anti-Muslim slurs may be just the beginning. And why the email trail will lead to major new investigations of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
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