Wednesday, October 27, 2004

E-mail slurs
Kauai’s top cop

Mayor Baptiste has
spoken to its sender,
a police commissioner

Kauai Police Chief K.C. Lum, a 22-year veteran of the police department, was called "Hop Sing" in an e-mail by police commissioner Leon Gonsalves Sr.

LIHUE » Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste termed "inappropriate" an e-mail message authored by a member of the Kauai Police Commission who called Kauai's newly appointed Chinese-American Police Chief K.C. Lum "Hop Sing."

In the controversial Oct. 14 e-mail, Police Commissioner Leon Gonsalves Sr. also referred to Lum's Caucasian choice for Deputy Chief, Ron Venneman, calling him "Little Joe."

"Tomorrow is the swearing in for Hop Sing and Little Joe. I wouldn't be there, thank Good (sic), I might throw up." Gonsalves said in the e-mail to a Kauai Police Department employee.

Gonsalves is a retired police officer and the only member of the commission to vote against Lum. He is also Baptiste's only appointee on the five-member Police Commission.

The e-mail was forwarded widely throughout the Police Department, the Prosecutor's Office and islandwide.

Both Hop Sing and Little Joe were characters in the long-running television series "Bonanza." Hop Sing was the stereotyped Chinese cook for the Cartwright family. He had a long pigtail, wore a skull cap, was perpetually angry and was intended as a comical figure. Little Joe was the youngest of the Caucasian Cartwright half-brothers who, with their father, ran a sprawling cattle ranch in Nevada.

One prominent Chinese-American Kauai resident said calling a Chinese "Hop Sing" is as insulting as calling an African American "Little Black Sambo."

Baptiste said he has spoken to Gonsalves but was not able to reach either Lum or Venneman yesterday.

"A course of action will be determined once I am able to speak to all the appropriate parties," Baptiste said.

Interviewed Monday, Lum said he would not take a public position on the issue. The Star-Bulletin was unable to reach Gonsalves for comment.

When Lum was appointed, the police chief's post had been vacant for 10 months following the $200,000 buy-out of former Chief George Freitas.

Lum, who grew up as a self-described "Army brat," mostly at Fort Sill, Okla., is a 22-year veteran of the Kauai Police Department.

Venneman is a retired Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective who later joined the Kauai department.

County of Kauai


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