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DOJ probe requested into Antioch police scandal

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The attorneys represent 13 plaintiffs so far in two lawsuits against Antioch police, alleging civil rights violations, among other allegations.

The lawyers said in a statement Sunday "Our belief is that the department, through its officers and command staff, is engaged in systemic practices of racial, homophobic, and antisemitic policing."

The California Attorney General's Office, the FBI, and the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office are already investigating Antioch police, the latter two for at least a year-and-a-half.

Much of those investigations revolve around chains of racist and homophobic text messages involving about half of the department's approximate 100 officers.

Some of the messages involved threats against Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, who is African American, and other African Americans and people of color, including recently retired police chief Steven Ford.

Many of the texts showed officers using racist language and describing police violence against suspects. Dozens of officers have been suspended, at least one has been fired, and the city is scrambling to fully staff its ranks.

At least one officer has already been charged with crimes in connection with the texts, and more charges are expected.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked in print, radio, television, and web journalism.