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Leadership of the California Capitol Black Staff Association (CCBSA) has expressed outrage at the depiction of African American and transgender persons at a costume party hosted by employees of the Judicial Council.

The party reportedly took place in October 2016 and was marred by numerous racist and homophobic activities and comments allegedly perpetrated by various Judicial Council staffers. Guests were reportedly dressed as cast members of the television show “Orange Is The New Black” replete with prison attire and other stereotypical images of African Americans. The CCBSA released a statement condemning the activities:

“We live in a country where Black people have historically faced significant barriers to receiving fair treatment in the criminal justice system. This history, coupled with the continued struggle against systematic racial bias in government institutions such as the court system, makes the disturbing actions of the Judicial Council employees inexcusable. As public servants who work for a public body created to provide equitable access to California’s courts, it is shameful that these individuals chose to engage, on state time, in a type of hate speech that depicts dangerous stereotypes that have haunted the Black population in America since slavery.”

The CCBSA also struck back against attempts by party organizers to downplay any insensitivity toward African Americans with their contention that “no employee wore blackface” during the affair as a “clear and atrocious” attempt to “sweep under the rug” alleged racist conduct. They also lauded the efforts of Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) who gave a swift condemnation to the incident. Gipson, a former Carson city councilman, is chair of the California Assembly Democratic Caucus.

“We join the other organizations that have called for a public apology and for disciplinary action to be taken against the employees who participated in these malicious acts,” according to the CCBSA statement. The CCBSA is a non-partisan professional association comprised of Black policy staff and is not affiliated with the California State Legislature or any individual elected official.