The controversial video of an in which Police Chief Eric Mason jokes that his day was going well because he "didn't have to kill any white people" has been pulled from YouTube by the site's administrators.
On Tuesday, "GazeeboBricks," the people responsible for posting the video, received an email from "The YouTube Team" stating that "The YouTube Community has flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed by the YouTube Team against our Community Guidelines. Upon review, we have determined that the following video(s) contain content in violation of these guidelines, and have been disabled: Chief Mason CPD speaks."
In place of the video that had been online since early last month, there is a screen with the words "This video has been removed because it's content violated YouTube's terms of content. Sorry about that." The video had received thousands of hits and numerous comments since it was first posted.
The video featured photos of Mason and screenshots of the website as audio from the call between him and his son Christopher plays in the background. The call was made shortly after Mason was named Police Chief in 2003.
On March 28, GazeeboBricks received an email from YouTube stating that the website had received a "privacy complaint from an individual" regarding the video and offering the posters an opportunity to appeal the compliant before the clip was removed from the site.
"If you remove the alleged violation from the site within the 48 hours, the complaint filed will then be closed. If the potential privacy violation remains on the site after 48 hours, the complaint will be reviewed by the YouTube Team and may be removed pursuant to our Privacy Guidelines. For content to be considered for removal, an individual must be uniquely identifiable by image, voice, full name, Social Security number, bank account number or contact information (e.g., home address, email address)," the YouTube Team stated in its email to GazeeboBricks.
Mayor David Robinson said Tuesday he was not aware that a complaint had been filed. Mason did not return calls seeking comment or confirmation as to whether or not he was responsible for filing the privacy complaint.
After being notified of the complaint, GazeeboBricks told Patch that "if need be, we will reconfigure the video and re-post it. We sent a response to YouTube explaining our position that Mr. Mason is a public figure, and that he was speaking in a public setting with no expectation of privacy."
During a public Township Committee Meeting March 13, voicing his disappointment over the fact that someone released the tape of his phone call. Mason was out of the country when the controversy erupted, just hours after he announced his plans to retire as police chief on May 31 and . The video surfaced less than one day after the announcement was made on Feb. 28.
Mason said the contents of the phone call do not reflect his performance as the police chief or the interim township administrator. The chief also said he "regrets" if anyone was offended by the comments.
"The comments depicted in a personal telephone conversation between me and my son over eight years ago are not indicative of the career I have had or the person that I am," Mason said. "I regret if anyone was offended and I am disappointed that someone would try to exploit a personal conversation from over eight years ago for their personal gain."
The conversation on the tape appears to reflect a joke between a father and son meant to diffuse a tense situation in the wake of Mason's appointment as police chief. Mason is the township's first African American to hold the title of police chief in a town that, according to the 2000 census, was 93 percent Caucasian. He is not the first African American to hold a prominent office in Cranford law enforcement, however. In 1881, Joshua Bryant was elected constable - a position that represented the police power of the community at the time.
Mason said the call was private and he believes the people responsible for releasing the tape were attempting to divide the township and embarrass him.