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ICE official in Bay Area apologizes for social media post

Posted at 11:06 PM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 23:06:35-04

An official with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in San Francisco apologized for posting an image on social media that drew criticism from a Muslim civil rights group.

David Jennings, field office director for ICE in San Francisco, in a statement Friday said he was poking fun at himself when he posted the item on LinkedIn.

At the top of the post, Jennings said he was trying to use lessons learned from his “terrorism mentor” and that he needed to do more work. Below that was a photo of three folded black patio umbrellas arranged to resemble people in full body coverings. The caption with the photo said, “I spent 30 minutes talking to them to learn more about their culture until the barman told me they were umbrellas.”

Jennings said Friday that the post “was directed to a former co-worker and instructor in Arab culture and was meant to poke fun at myself and use me as an example to show that everyone can and should keep learning about people from different cultures, including people like me with extensive experience working with different cultures and traditions.”

He said he did not intend to offend anyone and that he removed the post.

Zahra Billoo, executive director with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the Bay Area, said the item raises concerns about the director’s cultural and religious competence.

“That he did not see the problem with his post until it was pointed out, causes me to worry me about his ability to lead and carry out his duties, particularly as they relate to immigrants from Muslim majority countries,” said Billoo.

The San Francisco Chronicle said that Jennings removed the post after the newspaper made an inquiry to ICE.