A Louisiana police department is the latest culprit tied to a blackface yearbook scandal this month.
According to NBC News, an old photo has circulated revealing two white Baton Rouge officers, Lt. Don Stone and Capt. Frankie Caruso, wearing paint on their face and body appearing to be Black. The picture, which is over twenty-years-old, has caused the Baton Rouge Police Department much embarrassment and shame.
The 1993 photo shows Stone and Caruso wearing denim clothing, hats and sunglasses with their “brown” skin posing for the camera in the Baton Rouge Police Department yearbook. The photo has the caption “Soul Brothers” placed under it.
As a response to the controversy, the to the Baton Rouge Police Department issued an apology. The police department also made a poor excuse stating that picture was taken before the officers went undercover for a drug bust that took place in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
“Blackface photographs are inappropriate and offensive,” Murphy Paul, the police department’s police chief said. “They were inappropriate then and are inappropriate today.”
“The Baton Rouge Police Department would like to apologize to our citizens and to anyone who may have been offended by the photographs,” he added.
According to the Greater Baton Rouge Crime Stoppers site, Lt. Stone is still working for the department serving as the coordinator of the privately owned, non-profit organization.
Capt. Caruso is now retired.
The police chief said in a statement the incident is no longer required to be investigated because it was taken a long time ago.
“Today, we would not allow our officers to wear blackface in an official capacity under any circumstances,” the statement read. “We have policies in place to prevent our officers from engaging in this type of behavior both on and off-duty.”
Sharon Weston Broome, Baton Rouge Mayor-President released a statement speaking against the photos of the officers, stating, “Blackface is more than just a costume,” she said. “It invokes a painful history in this country and it is not appropriate in any situation.”