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Riverside-area trustee cleared in police probe of racist Facebook posts

By in Press Enterprise on July 14, 2017

By Stephen Wall

Authorities found nothing to link a Riverside-area school board member to controversial Facebook posts that attacked undocumented immigrants, blacks and Muslims earlier this year, a police investigation concluded.

Alvord Unified School District trustee Joseph Barragan, 22, was accused of posting the statements, which prompted calls for his resignation and an effort to remove him from office. Barragan told police he received death threats and was the victim of intimidation.

Barragan said he feels vindicated, but his foes say the investigation had a limited scope and doesn’t cover the time period of the messages in question, which they say go back years, to least 2014.

“They targeted an innocent person and ruined their life,” Barragan said Thursday, July 13. “They sent people to follow me and they sent people to intimidate me. It’s ridiculous. It’s disgusting.”

Critics disagree.

“It does not exonerate him,” Alvord parent Miguel Ramos said. “I believe he had old accounts and made these racist statements in the past.”

Probe begins

Barragan contacted Riverside police Feb. 2 after receiving two death threats via the Direct Messenger feature on his school district Facebook account, Detective Jim Simons said. The threats were from different people and criticized Barragan for supporting President Donald Trump, Simons said. One message in Spanish called him a “racist” and a “bigot” who “deserves to be six feet under for going against your people,” Simons said.

Police were unable to identify who sent the threats after serving multiple search warrants that gave them access to Barragan’s Facebook account, he said.

The search warrants contained 936 pages of information, including photographs and all the posts sent from Barragan’s account from Jan. 1 through March 1, Simons said.

“I can tell you that I did not find any racist or derogatory posts that came from Joseph J. Barragan’s Alvord district Facebook account between those time […]    

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