St. Paul PD investigating photo of purported off-duty cop crossdressing as Muslim woman

Categories: Police, St. Paul
st paul muslim cop rect.jpg
Mukhtar Ibrahim on Twitter
This isn't a good look for any police officer, but it's especially bad for one working in a city with a large Muslim population.
:::: UPDATE :::: Robert Ruth, hijab-wearing St. Paul cop, apologizes for culturally insensitive photo

Well, this is bizarre.

SEE ALSO: MNGOP Rep. Cindy Pugh compares Muslim women to garbage bags

Over the weekend, a photo purportedly showing an off-duty St. Paul police officer dressed in a hijab with a Target badge and wearing lipstick made the rounds on social media. On Sunday evening, D.C.-based journalist and former St. Paul resident Mukhtar Ibrahim brought the photo to the St. Paul PD's attention. Yesterday morning, St. Police police confirmed the photo is under investigation.

It appears the photo was originally taken around last Halloween, and it was initially posted on Instragram by a user with the handle michaelhart1997. His account is now protected, but it wasn't when Ibrahim managed to take a screengrab of the photo with its original caption -- "Officer Rob Buth wins my vote for best costume."

Yesterday, Target confirmed to the Pioneer Press that the man seen in the photo "worked as an off-duty police officer" at the Target off University Avenue in St. Paul. Target won't say whether the person who first posted the photo on the internet is an employee.

The Pioneer Press reports that there is an officer Robert Buth on the St. Paul PD's K-9 unit.

A Target spokesperson "said the background in the image is not a Target facility," the PiPress report continues. "In the photo, a calendar showing an officer and police dog is visible on the wall behind the man, and is turned to the October 2012 page."

As you'd imagine, the photo offended more than a few people. On Twitter, folks have been using the #CultureNOTCostume hashtag to tweet about the controversy. Many are calling for the St. Paul PD to put officers through more rigorous diversity training.

Yesterday afternoon, St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith issued a statement regarding the photo. Here it is in its entirety:
After an image was brought to my attention this morning, I ordered an immediate investigation to determine all of the facts surrounding it. The Saint Paul Police Department has worked hard to establish a strong and respectful relationship with our Muslim communities, and I will not allow these types of images to erode that relationship. Diversity is one of the greatest strengths of the City of Saint Paul, and we expect each one of our officers to respect and take pride in serving each of our diverse communities.
Yet the PD still hasn't confirmed that the man in the photo is officer Buth. Seems like it shouldn't take days of investigation to figure that out, right?

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70 comments
jenkemjones
jenkemjones

I don't see anything wrong with it.  I'm dressed up as Mohammad right now.

Gwen Moody
Gwen Moody

Get over it...let's see what else can we find to be upset about....honestly people are to sensitive.

futurebird
futurebird

The fact that he is not proud of this photograph tell you everything you need to know about it. It's culturally intensive. I hope he has learned something from all of this. 

Erika J. Dani
Erika J. Dani

Did anyone say anything about police officers not celebrating Halloween? I didn't see that anywhere. As for your question about mobsters: had you dressed as a "20's gangster" back in the 20's, I'm pretty sure Al Capone would have had you dead within seconds for making fun of him and the other gangsters. Smart people would not have dressed as a "mobster" back then. As for lady bugs, well, last time I checked, lady bugs are not human beings like us and like Somali women working at Target, so no, a lady bug should not be considered an offensive costume in my opinion. Did you think that lady bugs were people? I remember only mentioning offending "people" in my previous post. I'm really sorry that you are confusing humans with lady bugs.

Chris Pederson
Chris Pederson

You two obviously do not understand the pressures that are put on women in this society. And in the Muslim societies in MN I suspect the pressure is even greater.. You do understand that burkas are designed to hide a woman's body so that she doesn't tempt men.. slut shaming taken to astronomical levels.

Dave Troy
Dave Troy

This is Minnesota, a great state of the United States. No woman is required to wear anything. They choose to. And, why "especially men"? It'd be okay if a woman officer wore this Halloween Costume? Sounds like you are discriminating on men, I think City Pages should do an article on that.

Dave Troy
Dave Troy

Your suggestion is to stomp on his 1st Amendment right to Free Speech? Good job Kathi.

Dave Troy
Dave Troy

An ass because he wore a Halloween Costume? I think this thread and your post need some "common sense" training.

Dave Troy
Dave Troy

So, police officers are not allowed to celebrate Halloween? I went as a 1920's gangster this year, do you think the Italians or other mobsters were offended? Last year my daughter was a lady bug, do you think she offended the lady bugs?

Branden Strot
Branden Strot

maybe the problem is that he wasnt a "slutty muslim" thats where he went wrong.

Branden Strot
Branden Strot

its always fine until you pick on me, or my race. then we have to go cry about it. its the same thing with the north dakota nickname. how is the fighting souix so derogatory, but the fighting irish isnt?

Branden Strot
Branden Strot

ya, he should have went as a slutty muslim...

Erika J. Dani
Erika J. Dani

There is a whole discourse about the offensiveness of dressing as a nun and as a native american for halloween. get with the 21st century.

Jean Claude Cau
Jean Claude Cau

Didn't Barbara Eden dress up like a Genie for a TV show? Is that offensive today?

Dave Troy
Dave Troy

Perhaps the muslim community needs diversity training regarding halloween.

Erin Munn
Erin Munn

Who cares? It's a Halloween costume. Stop making a mountain out of a molehill. No-one would be offended if he dressed as a nun or a Native American! Get over it already.

Dee Finkelson
Dee Finkelson

I hate it when ppl start playing "Saint". Is Halloween !!!!!! Dont be so dramatic ! Ppl wears Pastor/Angel Costumes all the time n no comments! Then what....hopefully St Paul PD wont fire him just for this stupid thing. Too many unemployment out there....and hey St Paul PD, catch criminals out there. There's many thing u gus can do beside paying much attention to this photo.

Mike Underhill
Mike Underhill

Make sure you only kill them with Tomahawk cruise missiles, laser guided bombs and remote control flying death machines. When you start making fun of them, you've completely crossed the line.

Sammy L Cater
Sammy L Cater

1. it was a costume...STFU... 2. ITS NOT A DAMN HASH TAG IT IS A NUMBER SIGHN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paul Tollefson
Paul Tollefson

Joe Strom thinks all you people that are insulted need to EAD.

Emily Summers Leabch
Emily Summers Leabch

I don't know about diversity training, how about some sensitivity training or lessons in how to not be an ass?

Matthew Jasper
Matthew Jasper

thank you city pages for posting another article that will fuel my daily 2mins of hate. If I'm not outraged about something I'm not living.

Joel Davies
Joel Davies

Maybe people should understand freedom of speech instead of educating everyone on how easily insulted they are?

Joel Davies
Joel Davies

How big of a deal would it be if he was dressed as a priest?

Ben Polzin
Ben Polzin

Or perhaps the problem is he went to diversity training with Michael Scott from the office.

Erika J. Dani
Erika J. Dani

cops should be aware that even during their off duty time, they are still representing the police force. the police are supposed to protect everyone, not mock people. anyone in any sort position of power (especially public service oriented positions!) needs to think twice about doing something so offensive and stupid, even if it is on their own time. that is just a reality of their job whether on or off duty. i'm pretty sure this is made clear to them before they sign up for the job. unfortunately, i don't think more training helps this kind of person. he clearly does not respect some of the very people he is supposed to be protecting, despite past trainings. any prior training in culture and diversity clearly went over his head.

Lauren Hazenson
Lauren Hazenson

Okay, really people? This was clearly not innocent or respectful. Police officers who do not show respect for minority cultures have a history of taking that disrespect to work with them. Let's use some ciritical thinking skills.

Chris Pederson
Chris Pederson

I uncomfortable with people, especially men, making fun of women who have to wear burkas. They don't really have a choice in this.

chris.jonus
chris.jonus

personally I don't see what, if any issues there are here?  the photo was taken around halloween, obviously a costume by the caption what was on the original posting of it, and now the Muslim community is all up in arms about people making fun of them and their lifestyle or whatever? 

sad really,  if the guy would have dressed up as himself, am i supposed to be upset that he dressed up as a regular white guy for halloween?  personally, I think we as people, americans and everyone else are being a bit too policically correct and even moreso in respect to the muslim community right now-  not sure why, but take the joke as a joke, it is what it is, get over yourselves, its not racist,its not a sensitive thing, its a freaking holloween costume!!!!

plus it hilarious.

futurebird
futurebird

@Chris Pederson I think that is a  one-dimensional way of interpreting a cultural tradition that has multiple meanings depending on the context. It's like saying reveling westren clothing or high heels are ALWAYS demeaning to women. While it's true some of the time, it isn't true all of the time. A feminist can wear high heels... or even a burka.

The issue is when men tell women what we can and cannot do with our bodies. So telling a woman that she must cover her body (or expose it) is sexist. The clothing itself isn't.

I think it's easy to point the finger st other cultures. We should first examine ourselves. 

futurebird
futurebird

@Dave Troy The costume is totally insensitive. That's why he isn't proud of the photo.

futurebird
futurebird

@Dave Troy Dave. You can understand that dressing like a gangster isn't the same thing as this. If you can't then you haven't really tried to imagine what it's like to be in the receiving end of bigotry. 

futurebird
futurebird

@Branden Strothow is the fighting souix so derogatory, but the fighting irish isnt?

Because of context and power. Irish-Americans are one of the largest ethnic groups in the country. They haven't had their land taken from them and their culture 
exploited  by outsiders in the same way that Native Americans have. 

But when the Irish first began mass migration to the Americas they did, in fact, face prejudice and they were hurt by stereotypes about their drinking and fighting. They were considered to be "less evolved" than "true" white Americans (they were not seen as really white)  http://www.victoriana.com/Irish/IrishPoliticalCartoons.htm

But since they had a more similar appearance and religion to white British Americans they were able to assimilate much more quickly, also there were just so many of them and unlike non-whites they could vote.

So, now the old stereotypes are more quaint than hurtful. That's why there is a difference. That a fighting Irishman is a symbol of a respected American college is more of a symbol of their success moving in to the upper echelons of American culture. "Indian" mascots do not have the same meaning, and so that can be offensive.



futurebird
futurebird

@Branden Strot I'll give you credit,  this was funny. ;)

chris.jonus
chris.jonus

one other thing, I am hardly racist at all, jsut because I think that this situation is blown way out of proportion does not automatically make me a racist.  I am as afar from it as you can imagine, but of course you all know me so well from one post on one comment board on the internet, so you must be right.......because they cant put anything that isnt true on the internet......

losers.  go take a nap, change your diapers and then read what I said from my perspective,  conservatives are way to uppity for my tastes,  get real folks.  join the rest of us in 2013 and realize its not all racist and about you.  learn to laugh a bit eh?

chris.jonus
chris.jonus

fuck all of you who are freaking polictically sensitive that one cannot dress as a muslim,. but can dress up as anything else under the sun.  Why muslims?  why now?  explain the situation other than the muslim women are oppressed blah blah blah.....guess what, they are , but that is not my fault and certainly not going to give it a second thought when choosing a HALLOWEEN COSTUME.......get over yourselves people.....my original comment was just about that, not taking EVERYTHING so freaking serious,  we live in a FREE country,  I can dress up as our president too,,,,,,is he going to start crying about it too?  is it going to get ont he news?  get real whiners.  our country is full of whiners like you, and it sickens me to no end.

futurebird
futurebird

@chris.jonus The issue is that it is making fun of a group of people (working class Muslim women) who already feel unwelcome enough in this country because of anti-Arab prejudice. Do you think there were any Muslim women there to enjoy and laugh at this? No way. He's supposed to be the kind of person who sets an example and helps to keep the peace. Instead he's being insensitive and making it worse.

That's the "problem."

White (Christian?) guys don't face as much (or the same kinds) of prejudice as minorities. 

I can see why he thought this was funny. It's funny to pretend to be someone very different from yourself. But think about how this could make people feel... even if he didn't mean it, it says "I think you're strange. You are not welcome." 

We should all try to make each other feel welcome. You know?

_Joe_
_Joe_

@chris.jonusI'm inclined to agree.  If he'd dressed up in pumps and a mini complete with fishnets, nobody would give a shit.  People dress up like LEPRECHAUNS on St Patrick's day, and nobody cares.  I'm sensing a double standard here.

 Seriously, how many nuns do you spot every halloween?  Nobody makes a stink about that.  Tell me why this style of clothing is sacred where all others are free game.


olso6311
olso6311

@chris.jonus fuck off, this cultural stereotyping at its prime right here, but you and all the other 40 something white guys from the burbs 'don't understand what's wrong with this'.

futurebird
futurebird

@jenkemjones  How do you know that every Muslim is a "jerk" --? How could you know? You don't. And you are wrong and very prejudiced. 

_Joe_
_Joe_

@futurebird @chris.jonus That's it.  I'm going as futurebird for halloween next year.  Seriously dude.  Halloween is Halloween.  Nobody dresses up to spite others.  And no one has explained to me yet why this ONE clothing option is sacred, while everything else under the sun is free game.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@_Joe_ @chris.jonus Just a tip Joe when both you and keny agree something isn't racist that means you are a racist.  If you find yourself on the same side as keny you need to rethink your life.   

Onan
Onan

@_Joe_ @chris.jonus I'm wondering how many nuns are in the population he is supposed to be serving and protecting?

chris.jonus
chris.jonus

blow me oslo-  not sterotyping anything in particular, but if you must got here- any halloween costume is sterotyping dont you think?  what about your wife drssing up as the naughty nurse, is that not a sterotyping?  PA-LEASE

_Joe_
_Joe_

@MicheleBachmann It's called reading comprehension, love.  I was agreeing with chris.jonus.  Keny made his comments after I did.  And just fyi, I value the opinions of both you and keny about equally.

_Joe_
_Joe_

@Onan @_Joe_ @chris.jonus True.  There are probably more muslim women than nuns.  But what what about white chicks?  Guessing there are even more of them and if he'd dressed up like one, no one would give the slightest fuck. 

keny1
keny1

@MicheleBachmann I love how I get under your skin. I love the long idiotic paragraphs that you write in response to me.  LOL!

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@keny1  keny you are a racist that constantly uses racial slurs in your posts.  No one cares what you think on this story or any other.  You defending this guy just proves how wrong and racist what he did is.  If you think its ok obviously its not because you are an idiot racist who loves to see white people act like you.  You always defend racists while pretending what they did isn't racist then you go to the next story and call black children racial slurs.  You are a terrible human being, just like this guy.  You better pray to God of stupid racists we never find out where you work.  Maybe whatever company employes you doesn't care how racist the guy cleaning their toilets is but it would be fun to try and get a racist scumbag like you fired.  One day your evil karma will catch up to you.  Hopefully it involves one of your children dating a black guy who beats you into a coma when you try to attack him or her when they bring him over for dinner.   Having a cool gay liberal son with a protective boyfriend would be just about perfect for a bigot like you.  

Onan
Onan

@keny1 @chris.jonus This seems to be very culturally insensitive considering his line of work and the population he is supposed to serve.

Better?

keny1
keny1

@chris.jonus

And you are a fucking moron. This guy is dressed as a Muslim woman.  Muslims are not a race of people, fucktard. Therefore it is not "racist".

Furthermore, how do you know I live in the suburbs? Conjecture much?

And since I am assuming that you live in the city, how does make you make you a superior human being?   

ahugginkiss
ahugginkiss

 Uh, not really. The racism is pretty obvious here.

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