Five US police officers are being investigated for allegedly sending text messages filled with racist comments.
Captain Thomas Flanders and Detective Michael Sollenberger, in Montgomery County, Ohio, have been placed on paid administrative leave, while three other unnamed officers remain in post while the investigation is being conducted.
The texts emerged when copies of the messages were anonymously sent to Derrick Foward, the president of the Dayton unit of the National Association for the Advancement Coloured People (NAACP).
Mr Foward told WBTN: “These text messages, while some of them may be some joking going on back and forth, some of them are flat out rude and racist.”
The messages were filled with racist and offensive comments. One read: “I hate n******. That is all.”
Another said: “We stopped at a Walmart in Birmingham, there are a lot of Black people in Alabama. It's all Martin Luther King’s fault.”
In a particularly crude attempt at a joke, one deputy wrote: "What do apples and black people have in common? They both hang from trees."
One officer apparently threatened to stab a black person at a bar, describing them as a “coon”. Two African-American deputies were also mentioned in the messages.
Sheriff Phil Plummer of Montgomery County said: "These five individuals have taken this organisation three steps backward and will be held accountable. I will not tolerate racism in this department."
He added that while the culprits were shocked they were caught they did not apologise for their actions.
Capt Flanders, who has been in the sheriff’s office for 19 years, claimed that the allegations were completely false in a phone interview with 2 News and said he would to clear his name.
The NAACP is pressing for an external inquiry into the scandal.
This latest news comes as tensions between US police and the African-American community are running high.
The shooting dead of black teenager Michael Brown - and the subsequent decision not to indict the police officer who shot him - has sparked protests across the US.
On Wednesday, a grand jury also decided not to indict the police officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold, leading to his death in Staten Island, New York in July.
President Obama has even said that "police brutality is an American problem".
Under the banner "Black Lives Matter", thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across America.