Frank Rizzo’s inheritance in the Philadelphia Police shows his DNA on the officers´ Facebook accounts working in the City of Fraternal Love. It is a turbid, blurred mixture of feelings where racism, misogyny, supremacy, contempt for immigrants, sadism and hatred, get together and display hostility.
A review of FB’s accounts by Project Plain View, led by Philadelphia attorney Emily Baker-White, analyzed the content of thousands of U.S. police officers’ public Facebook posts which showed evidence of widespread hatred.
The findings of this research were published in collaboration with Injustice Watch and reporters Emily Hoerner and Rick Tulsky of BuzzFeedNews who wrote a journalistic work entitled “Good Day for a Choke Hold”.
While the project examined the accounts of some 2,900 officers from eight departments across the country and an additional 600 retired officers from those same departments, the virulence shared by guarantors of Philadelphia’s motto “to protect and to serve” stands out from the rest.
Plain View collected articles from nearly 3,000 accounts in which 14,400 police officers participated as commentators and were able to verify them. This evidence represents problematic behaviour in a database full of racist images and notes and, in some cases, long and poisonous exchanges involving several police officers.
From Chicago to the whole world
The Chicago BuzzFeedNews story, based on the findings of the Plain View project, states that researchers were able to positively identify approximately 1 in 5 of the current officers, and 2 in 5 of the retired officers, who made public comments “applauding violence, scoffing at due process, or using dehumanizing language.”
Journalists said they accessed records where “officials mocked Mexicans, women, and black people, celebrated the Confederate flag, and showed a man with a kaffiyeh scarf in the crosshairs of a gun.”
“Just another savage that needs to be exterminated,” wrote Booker Smith Jr, a Dallas police sergeant, about a homicide at a Dollar General store. “Execute all involved,” he wrote separately about a group of teenagers who were accused of killing a 6-year-old boy. (One defendant pled guilty to aiding in the kidnapping. The alleged shooter and the trials of another defendant are scheduled for the end of this year.)
Reuben Carver III, a Phoenix officer, proclaimed in an stand-alone comment: “It’s a good day for a choke hold.
The officials named in the extensive BuzzFeedNews article did not respond to attempts to contact them or declined to comment.
When contacted regarding the findings of the Plain View project, some departments asked for more details about the publications collected.
However, the investigation revealed that regarding police abuse, “the system” prefers to negotiate in the courts and free violent officials from jail. For example, lawsuits involving five Philadelphia officials cost the city more than $1.3 million, not including settlements for undisclosed amounts.
The Phoenix Police Department said it had opened an investigation about Carver’s post and submitted it to the Professional Standards Bureau for review. The same officer also made posts threatening offenders with sexual assault and celebrating violence against “hippies”.
A spokesperson with the St. Louis police department said they had forwarded information regarding the post denigrating Muslims to their Internal Affairs division. A spokesman with the Dallas Police Department said they had forwarded Smith’s details to superiors for review.
Philadelphia is frightening.
The project was able to identify approximately 1 in 5 of the approximately 14,400 staff members listed through a combination of profile name, URL, photographs, badge numbers and other identifying information. Many officers could not be included because they had common names or nicknames used, their profiles were private or they did not have a Facebook profile.
In Philadelphia, which has approximately 6,600 agents, Project Plain View identified 1,073 posts on Facebook, of which about one-third had disturbing contents.
Of the 328 Philadelphia police officers who posted troubling content, more than a third – 139 officers – appeared to have been the subject of one or more federal civil rights lawsuits, based on their name, badge number, and other corroborating details. Of that group, one hundred ended up in settlements or verdicts against them or the city.
Translated by: José Espinoza