Garden State Equality has helped a Monmouth County SPCA Officer, Sue DesMarais, expose the homophobic, transphobic, and racist text messages of Monmouth County SPCA Police Chief Victor “Buddy” Amato.
Following the posting of a story online about Amato’s texts, Amato resigned.
“Sue DesMarais saw injustice, acted, and is a hero,” said Andrea Bowen, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. This is a model for how LGBT activists can battle the connected evils of homophobia, transphobia, and racism. Bring bigotry to light.”
“What he is putting out is there is the exact stereotype of why people hate police officers,” DesMarais told Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden. “He is putting this hate into the world.”
Amato’s texts compared Michelle Obama to an ape, made fun of slain black teenager’s Michael Brown’s death, and included a Christmas song with homophobic lyrics.
DesMarais, after complaining about the texts to her superiors, alleges in a lawsuit that she stopped receiving work assignments. She asked GSE for support. They referred her to GSE’s Designated Liaison at the NJ State Division on Civil Rights. Once DCR expressed interested in the case, DesMarais retained private counsel.
The lawsuit also claims that in addition to the racist and homophobic texts, Amato directed an agent to forge his signature on summonses and warrants, equipped his car with and directed others to use illegal emergency flashing lights and sirens, and didn’t implement or require training for the use of force, despite issuing handcuffs and pepper spray.
The lawsuit filing says DesMarais gave the messages to the board of the Monmouth County SPCA. She was then told it would be better for her to stop working. Meanwhile, Amato remained in his position as chief.
To bring visibility to the story GSE had connected DesMarais with Buzzfeed. New Jersey News12 reported today that Amato resigned. Amato has said he will not comment on the ongoing lawsuit or the content of the messages other than to tell the Asbury Park Press “They were just a bunch of jokes. Jokes going back and forth between a bunch of the guys.”
He said the messages reached a person who wasn’t supposed to get them.