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Menlo Park's police chief was publicly accused of using a racial slur in ethics training. Here's the story.

Original post made on Jun 22, 2020

During a town hall meeting Thursday evening to discuss policing in Menlo Park, Housing Commissioner Karen Grove said she'd heard Menlo Park police Chief Dave Bertini use a racial slur in an ethics training. Here's what happened.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 22, 2020, 12:22 PM

Comments (29)

Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2020 at 12:40 pm

As a person of Chinese descent, I'm not sure I would consider this a "racial slur." Just my two cents...

Posted by Burke
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:29 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Priorities
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:10 pm

Instead of digging up old dirt and he said she said . Why doesn’t Palo Alto weekly do some real investigation of current stories such as the big increase in illegal and loud fireworks being launched every night and all night In Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Palo Alto. What are our officials doing to address this serious Degradation of quality of life?

Posted by Socially Unaware
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:24 pm

Shrimp and Chow, get it? That's a food joke, that's not racially insensitive. Chow is slang for food, it's also derived from the Chinese word meaning to cook or to mix. I should know, that's my heritage. I've had people make puns on my surname my entire life-- I've never felt it was racist or maliciously intended. Kinda juvenile, sure, but not racist. Becoming of the Chief of Police? Eh. But not racist.

To be racist, it has to be meant to offend. This is why the nickname for Richard can be used in polite circles without offending anyone. So who was offended here? Karen? Now she may be Asian, but she cannot take offense if she's not. She can consider it in poor taste (get it, more food jokes) but she has no standing to be offended.

Now the funny thing about the nickname "Shrimp Boy" is that Chow is not a man of great stature. You would think he might have squashed that nickname awhile ago because it is pejorative. Instead, he embraced it.

Posted by MP Oldtimer
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 7:02 pm

I believe this is the first time I've publicly sided with Bertini, but Karen Grove's attack is simply ridiculous. Bertini made a joke, that's all. OK, maybe not the best joke, but it is so plainly an attempt at humor in a topic that is normally bereft of humor, Belaboring it as Grove has says far more about her than it does about Bertini.

I hope that neither Mueller nor Robinson wasted any of the City's time dealing with this. Likewise, I certainly hope that such a spurious attack played no part in Bertini's sudden retirement decision.

Posted by J Chu
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 8:36 pm

I'm asian and i don't find this offensive at all. I'm more offended by the fact that people with privilege think they can get offended on our behalf without even asking what we think.

Posted by Not racist
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 9:38 pm

I'm Chinese, and I can say it's not offensive because that's the criminal's nickname. You can look it up. That's the criminal's nickname "Shrimp Boy." It's like if I said of Marshal Matthers, his name is something you would find in a US candy shop, is that making fun of white people?

Posted by Areyoukidding
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:29 pm

What an absurd thing to report about. Snowflakes trying to outdo themselves on the virtue signaling front.

Posted by Bay Area Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:59 pm

Lol, see Karen Grove - you've offended people by not only blowing the racist whistle - you cant convince people who are chinese and of chinese descent that this is racist... man..seems like you were the only one thinking this was racist. [Portion removed.]


Person A- "his name sounds like it came from a chinese menu"

Person B - " thats so racist."

Waiter at a chinese restaurant - " our special today is shrimp. "

Scenarios around the nation:
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

These are acts of racism. Karen Grove, you've done nothing to eliminate the issues that our judicial system faces.

Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 11:11 pm

[Portion removed.]

All you've done here today, is weaken a city.

Posted by Jumbo Shrimp
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by AsianHere
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:15 am

Similar to the comments here from other fellow Asians, I did not find the joke from the police chief offensive or racist at all. For the Karen to go to such extremes to
try and bring someone down is malicious. We have bigger problems that need attention and focus in our towns.

Posted by Karen should resign
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:47 am

Part of leadership is being constructive and supportive of the people that make the organization run successfully. It requires enough depth and judgment to know how to give feedback, and to know *when* to give feedback.

Chief Bertini was using the criminal's self selected and known nickname. Karen, your judgment was poor in perceiving this as an issue, and your judgment was poor in how you delivered your feedback.

Bad leaders can drive good leaders and strong contributors out of organizations, and this is a case in point. Karen, you have no business as Housing Commissioner, and you should resign.

Posted by David Kwan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:34 am

As a second generation American and son of Asian immigrants, I am offended that she was offended and even more so that my local paper would even bother running this trash in an effort to smear a good man who happens to be a member of a race these woke people hate. Who’s the editor over there? Are the good cops not already being trashed enough over something they had nothing to do with? I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them and they have to deal with some really bad people around here. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Huang Ngo
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:43 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:31 am

I found the use of the Shrimp ____ extremely offensive and felt the papers were VERY wrong to include that when describing Mister Raymond Chow.

As a 4th grade teacher I would use this as an example of what NOT TO DO with my class. Bay Area families come from all over the globe and every one of my students agreed - it was an inappropriate comment / way to describe somebody.

Can you speak racist words when teaching a class on racism? Sure. But otherwise they should simply NOT be part of your speech.

If you cannot call someone by their proper name don't say anything at all.

Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:57 am

Calling him shrimp boy IS offensive! Making joke of China food only make it worse.

Where is your self-claimed holding high standard of ethics standard as high rank official of public service?

Thank Karen for stopping it.

Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:28 am

What he said might have been offensive, but it was NOT a racial slur, and to characterize as such diminishes the problem of real racial slurs.

It is also the guys actual street name, so it is not like he was making it up.

Web Link

Is Wikipedia perpetrating a racial slur because the article is titled 'Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow'? Come on..

Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:07 pm

From the San Francisco Chronicle June 7, 2016
"Prominent defense attorney J. Tony Serra and two colleagues asked a federal judge Monday to withdraw as lawyers for Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, convicted of racketeering and murder as leader of a community organization in San Francisco’s Chinatown."

Get a grip you people.

Posted by A nice guy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Has political correctness gone too far?

Posted by The Observer
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Huang Ngo: "Kate Bradshaw = Failed attempt at race bating. This reporter has got to go after this embarrassing article."

I disagree. The reporter performed a public service. Don't you want to know about public officials with poor judgment and misplaced priorities? Any "race-baiting" was by Ms. Grove.

Posted by David Lee Fraser
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:42 pm

People grow up there are people around us are dying. It looks like some people are trying to start another Civil War?
You have ruined a good man over a thing that was said? Now you need a new Chief because he is retiring in July! Nice going, it says crime is down since 2007? Now you'll get a kiss ass puppet who can't think on their own, the city council will run the show!
I was a Menlo Park Police Officer early 60's-thru early 70's. There are more important things to focus on with people around us dying and some ignorant people trying to start another Civil War? We have to come together as one, God asks us to love one another! Please before it is to late. I went to my Dr. because I thought I broke something?
Nothing broken, but they told me I was in stage 4 cancer. All my thoughts and priorities have changed and I'm in the fight of my life! Don't look for trouble take care of yourself, and let's all come together. Chief, I would ask for compensation, you sound like a great Person, & a Great CHIEF!
Be well, and God bless.
David Lee Fraser

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Bad cop no dumpling.
(I know nothing about him but in these times I’d prefer to not have to guess when a public servant or public safety officer is kidding. For the time bring we should be on top of this like white on rice).
I actually met an artist and activist and civil servant who knows shrimp boy personally and does not distance herself from him despite the fact he is a thug and a convicted criminal everybody has a good side I guess.
There was also a state elected from South city area they remember being in a different part of a nightclub the night of one of his campaign parties and noticing he seem to have the support of a lot of gangster rap looking fellows if 30 years in the music biz permits me to make a broad statement and sure enough this guy was indicted for taking bribes from the FBI
Plus I’ve known Karen Grove for 45 years and she has good judgment so please step back

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:11 pm

If it seems like "there must be more to this story!" there usually is more to the story.

In this case, amongst other unpopular actions, this was the police chief who created the wildly unpopular "Facebook Police Unit"

Web Link

"One of the key architects of the “Facebook Unit,” a controversial team within the Menlo Park Police Department in California, abruptly stepped down on Friday, citing a loss of community trust. Menlo Park police Chief Dave Bertini announced his sudden, early retirement during a town hall forum about issues with local law enforcement.

"Earlier this month, local residents protested the police unit, which is financially supported by millions of dollars from Facebook, the city’s largest employer. They demanded Facebook cease funding the Menlo Park Police Department."

So there is that, too.

Posted by Bay Area Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:13 pm

@ Mark Weiss - haha good play on words, brother, I see what you did :) . I disagree with your comment on Karen but I see you speak from a personal standpoint; stand strong in her defense.

@ The Observer - you make a great point. Our local community journalist want nothing more than to see our community stay informed. They don't try to sneak in bias opinions or use suggestive terms to manipulate their readers. Not as aggressive and insidious as other news *cough* CNN *cough*

Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:15 pm

BTW I have to call out that Menlo Park collects "millions of dollars" from its biggest employer.

Want to guess how much Palo Alto collects from our biggest employer, and all the rest of our employers? ZERO. We collect zero. Because our City Council, unlike the city council of Menlo Park and virtually every other city in the country (if not world), inexplicably refuses to tax our biggest businesses even one tiny cent.

Lucky Menlo Park, now maybe they can redirect the millions of dollars from Facebook into something more beneficial to residents, like housing, and parks, and children's theater programs, and assistance for small businesses, and support of nonprofits, and - maybe - college radio stations like KZSU. But here in Palo Alto, we get office space and luxury hotels.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 24, 2020 at 9:57 am

The Chief is going to retire.

He has served us well for over a decade.

Let this rest - it has no bearing on the future.

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:39 pm

As RE points out, Chief Bertini also accepted a controversial $11m privatization deal from a local corporation, so losing a staring contest with a neophyte pol was merely the last straw.

Next time the Almanac should put Grove on the cover.
Maybe Palo Alto and Menlo can merge public safety departments.

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