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Official: take ‘Chicago safari’ to see ‘animals in their natural habitat’ in crime-ridden areas

(US Department of State/Flickr)
July 18, 2017

The former Chicago district water superintendent is again under fire after a recent report revealed he sent racist emails that advertised a “Chicago safari” to tourists, featuring “at least one kill and five crime scenes” and “lots of animals in their natural habitat,” while enjoying “three deluxe Harold’s Chicken meals a day.”

A watchdog quarterly report by the city’s Inspector General Joseph Ferguson uncovered the emails sent by Paul Hansen to other water department heads. Hansen “is white and the son of a former alderman,” the Chicago Tribune on Monday reported. Hansen previously was under scrutiny after sending emails about buying and selling firearms and cars using his city email address, which sparked the most recent probe into city email accounts.

The emails “included messages to fellow workers purported to be in ‘Ebonics,’ sometimes called American black English, and a picture describing a swimming pool for a small African-American child who sits in a bucket filled with water while holding a slice of watermelon, the report found,” the Tribune said. That picture reportedly had the title, “As an apology – Paula Deen Opens Swimming Pool for Youth.” Deen, a celebrity chef formerly on the Food Network, received immense backlash in 2013 when she used a racial slur.

Hansen also reportedly sent a “Watermelon Protection” email of a picture “depicting a Ku Klux Klan scarecrow guarding a field of watermelons,” according to the report.


The Tribune reported that it first disclosed the “racist, sexist and homophobic” emails online on Friday. The city has recently been in the national spotlight after one of the most deadly July Fourth weekends, when more than 100 people were shot, of which 15 people died from their wounds.

While Hansen was not named directly in Ferguson’s report, the Tribune reported that it was able to identify him based based on job descriptions and job activity, as well as through City Hall sources.

Another person who reportedly sent racist emails was Thomas Durkin, the former foreman of plumbers who resigned after being placed on leave following his anti-black and anti-Muslim emails, the Tribune noted.

The inspector general’s report on Monday said Hansen featured the July Fourth holiday in his emails, which contained the subject line: “Chicago safari tickets,” the Tribune reported.

” ‘If you didn’t book a Chicago Safari adventure with us this 4th of July weekend this is what you missed,’ the report quoted the email as saying,” the Tribune reported. “The date of this email and others were not provided in the report. The comment was followed by lists of the number of people shot in South and West side neighborhoods including Englewood, Garfield Park, Austin, Lawndale, South Shore and Woodlawn.”

” ‘Remember all Chicago Safari packages include [three] deluxe Harold’s Chicken meals a day,’ ” the report quoted Hansen’s email as saying. ” ‘We guarantee that you will see at least one kill and five crime scenes per [three-day] tour. You’ll also see lots and lots of animals in their natural habitat. Call and book your Chicago Safari today.’ ”

Additionally, there was a visual of “four white people in safari gear” who are “taking pictures of several black people who are trying to break into a car,” according to the report, the Tribune said.

Black people were referred to as “wild animals” and “untamed” by Durkin, who reportedly replied to the email, according to the Tribune.

“Among the email’s photographs, the report said, was one of a ‘wheelbarrow full of watermelons with a sign’ stating ‘Apply for a Credit Card. Free Watermelons.’ It was sent to a high-ranking official with the subject line: ‘U Know U Be In Da Hood,’ ” according to the Tribune.

Neither Hansen or Durkin could be reached for comment, the Tribune said.