Five Police and Four Dispatchers Suspended Due to Computer Messages

“Burn baby burn” were the words allegedly typed on a computer screen by police officers and dispatchers after an Austin Texas nightclub caught fire.According to CNN, witnesses at the Midtown Live club saw the three words on a computer screen inside an officer’s patrol car on February 18, the night of the fire.

The mostly black clientele of the club leads many to believe that the messages were racially motivated. Documents released Friday, indicate that officer John Lengefeld sent a message from his police car to officer Josue Martinez that said, “burn, baby burn” according to CNN.com. Martinez comments were among more than two hours of messages.

Officers accused in the computer messages are receiving 15-day unpaid suspensions according to CNN.com. Susan Negron, one of the dispatchers whose messages were found wrote, “I have some extra gasoline if they need it.” Negron also wrote, “ My nite is made. I just had a lady ask me if it was burning. I said yep. She was upset. I was enthralled,” according to CNN.com.

Dispatcher Ashlye Bauerle’s messages were also included in the collected documents.Bauerle wrote, “You hear that Midtown is on the fire!! The roof of a club…That’s funny! Gives a whole new meaning to the roof, the roof is on fire,” according to CNN.com.

The messages suggest that the officers were tired of responding to calls from the club. Data shows that over the last year, the police have responded to 129 calls from the club that included stabbing, gunshots and public intoxication CNN reported.

Some students, like Andre Taylor, a recent graduate from Cheyney University believe the messages could be looked at as racially motivated to some, but not to others.

“You could say that it’s racially motivated, but can you honestly say that it is?” Taylor said. “Often people will make a statement that can be perceived as racial, without thinking about what the general population thinks.”

Taylor continued, by saying that in this case it probably was racial. “The police department probably felt it was something that was racially motivated since they released the documents on Friday and the fire happened last month.”