By Tim Petruk
A Kamloops police officer’s conduct is under review after he made black face jokes in a series of posts on his personal Instagram account.
RCMP Const. Rupert Meinke’s posts showed him receiving skin treatment. In one photo, a woman is apparently applying a black cleansing mask to his face; another appears to be a selfie with the cleansing mask on.
The photo of the mask being applied is accompanied by this caption: “Black face session. It’s suppose to help my looks. I don’t think it’s working,” followed by a laughing emoji.
The selfie is accompanied by this caption: “Is my skin racist? Micro aggressions matter.”
Meinke’s Instagram is private and it’s unclear when the posts were made, but screenshots of them began circulating on social media late last week.
Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky told KTW he cannot speak to specifics regarding Meinke’s Instagram posts or duty status, but said making black face jokes on social media would not be smart.
“In this day and age that we’re in, that would be a dumb thing to do,” Lecky said. “I would certainly look into it.”
Lecky said he is unable to discuss Meinke’s posts because they were made on a personal Instagram account.
“It’s a social media account that is private and it isn’t linked to policing or the RCMP,” Lecky said. “So, I can’t even confirm to you if it’s a member.”
If he were to be made aware of such posts coming from a constable, Lecky said, an internal code-of-conduct investigation would be launched.
Meinke has also worked as a part-time instructor at Thompson Rivers University. He has taught police and justice studies classes.
University spokeswoman Darshan Lindsay told KTW the institution is “looking into” Meinke’s Instagram posts.
“Our commitment is to create a university where everyone belongs, where we show our respect for one another through our actions and in our words,” she said. “While we won’t be providing further comment on this matter, we can confirm the individual has taught courses part-time at TRU in the past.”
Lindsay said Meinke is not currently employed by or teaching at TRU.
Lecky said he was first made aware of the Instagram posts on Sunday, July 5.
CTV News Vancouver also reported on this story and was among media outlets to reach out to Meinke for comment. He replied, saying: “Sorry I cannot comment other than it is a skin care product. Take care.”
“Charcoal face masks, no harm, no foul,” Vanessa Simon, an activist and organizer for Black Lives Matter, told CTV. “But then you’re posting on your social media for the public to see, asking, ‘Is this racist? Micro aggression matters,’ you’re setting yourself up to be ridiculed by the community and he is getting what is coming to him.”
Simon told CTV News she was frustrated when she first saw the posts, opining they are insensitive and in poor taste.
“It’s concerning to me that there’s someone like that in the police department,” she said.