LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Officials from the Sheriff’s Department are under fire Wednesday for hosting what some called a racially offensive comedy show during a luncheon attended by hundreds in the department.
The event was part of the annual “Sheriff’s Day” lunch held Wednesday afternoon in Montebello.
Filipino stand up comic Edwin San Juan’s act includes sexually explicit material, racial humor, stereotypes about Koreans and Indians, and uses of the N word, according to guests.
Fans of the act said the comedian offended every group across the board and singled-out no group as a particular target.
But one lunch guest told the LA Times that, “There was a lot of cringing and nervous laughter. I was sitting there thinking, ‘Are you kidding me?”
San Juan posted photos of himself posing with Sheriff Lee Baca and Chief of Detectives William McSweeney on his Facebook and Twitter pages.
Baca presented San Juan with a plaque following his 30-minute set praising him for leadership, humor and wisdom.
The lunch is hosted by the Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County, a group associated with law enforcement and not officially associated with the Sheriff’s Department.
After much criticism was leveled at the Sheriff’s Department, spokesperson Steve Whitmore said Sheriff Baca was also uncomfortable with the jokes.
Whitmore talked to CBS2’s Dave Bryan about Baca’s reaction. “Was he concerned? Yes. Did he think complaints would come forward? Yes. Does he want to extend an apology to anybody that was offended? Of course. That’s not the intent of this off-duty, informal lunch where people come together and bond.”
One official told the Times, “It is perplexing … as much as we fight racism on the department, the sheriff would embrace and seemed to condone the completely racist monologue.”
Whitmore insists the plaque that Baca gave the comedian was not an endorsement of the material.
“The plaque is a way to say thank you for volunteering to do this. That’s all it is. The Sheriff’s Department gives plaques to people that participate for fun and for free,” said Whitmore.