Officer Friendly: Stop RESISTING Racist Cops' Hella Wicked Memes And Such!
Some reporters with the Center For Investigative Reporting did a neat science fair project and discovered Facebook is just lousy with racist cops, imagine that! The reporters found hundreds of active duty and retired cops and prison guards, from all over the country, in a bunch of racist, misogynist, Islamophobic, and neo-Confederate groups on Facebook, and that reflected only the private groups that allowed the reporters to join them. No big, just a bunch of armed people with the power to use deadly force, sharing funny memes about how all Muslims are a threat to America, calling for white pride, and fretting about the Jewish plot to fill the country with Mexicans.
These cops have worked at every level of American law enforcement, from tiny, rural sheriff's departments to the largest agencies in the country, such as the Los Angeles and New York police departments [...]
The groups cover a range of extremist ideologies. Some present themselves publicly as being dedicated to benign historical discussion of the Confederacy, but are replete with racism inside. Some trade in anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant memes. Some are openly Islamophobic. And almost 150 of the officers we found are involved with violent anti-government groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.
Oh, but those are just patriotic groups for patriots who love America, is all! Golly, it's getting to where you can't hang out with an antigovernment militia that openly calls for armed rebellion without being branded an extremist. After all, the armed rebellion is only for when it becomes really necessary, like if the president is black.
And what a fine collection of folks the reporters found, nearly 400 in all -- and the reporters are careful to note their search only scratches the surface. The reporters looked at "closed" Facebook groups, which require permission from a moderator to join, and they were not allowed to join many of the extreme groups they applied to. (For that matter, another group found plenty of overtly violent and racist content on cops' public Facebook pages, to no one's surprise.)
Megan Squire, a computer science prof at Elon University in North Carolina, said their limited data had only opened "a tiny, postage-stamp-sized window into Facebook's skyscraper of data."
But they didn't have to dig very deep to find some people you might not consider ideal examples of public service, like a correctional officer in Louisiana who belonged to "56 extremist groups, including 45 Confederate groups and one called "BAN THE NAACP," or JT Thomas, a detective with the Harris County Sheriff's Office in Houston who belonged to a private group called "The White Privilege Club," where he made funny jokes about a black lady who said a dumb after the hurricane, haw-haw:
JT Thomas was fired by the Harris County Sheriff''s office after Reveal brought the posts to its attention, but he doesn't see why:
In a hearing to appeal his firing, Thomas said he didn't realize he was a member of the closed group and defended his behavior. "If you remove the black female out of the picture, what's racist about it?" he said. The Harris County Sheriff's Civil Service Commission upheld his firing.
And that's some of the milder stuff. The report identified cops who posted such humorous gems as "If Black lives really mattered …. They'd stop shooting each other!" and others who belonged to groups with clever names like "Anti-SJW Pinochet's Helicopter Pilot Academy," GET IT? Some cops liked to call black people "dindus," a favorite racist term you can find at Stormfront -- and for that matter, on Twitter, so what's the big deal?
One very nice NYPD cop belonged to a whole bunch of incel/manosphere groups, and replied to a meme asking what would make a good Christmas gift for a woman with "a gif of a man kicking a woman in the head." Bet he was perfectly professional whenever he was out on a domestic violence call.
The reporters contacted the agencies that employed the active duty cops, and because there's a huge range of policies on cops' off-duty behavior, some opened investigations, and others -- well, nothing at all.
The Abbeville Police Department in Georgia hasn't responded to multiple phone calls and emails about one of its officers, Joel Quinn, frequently featuring conspiracy theories and anti-Islam posts on his personal Facebook wall. He also has posted inside a Confederate group.
Mind you, Quinn explained to the reporters that not only is he merely exercising his First Amendment right to free expression, he's actually doing some EXCELLENT copping when he warns about the Muslim threat:
Reached via Facebook Messenger, Quinn defended his posts. "Its also my responsibility to detect possible threats to my community all the way up to and including my country," he wrote. "Think about this, majority of crimes are committed by minorities (black, hispanic, etc) per FBI statistics yet I don't 'prey' on any particular one."
The story adds this parenthetical fact-check of the law enforcement expert: "According to the latest FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, 68.9 percent of arrestees in 2017 were white." Smartasses, the point is, the really BAD ones are the blacks and browns, especially when you subtract members of the Trump administration from the overall total of arrests.
In some cases, cops who belonged to extremist private groups on Facebook also had some real charming behavior on the job, too, like a Chicago PD lieutenant who belonged to the mellifluously named "Any islamist insults infidels, I will put him under my feet." Sadly, that group was memoryholed by Facebook before the reporters were able to see whether the LT had actually been active there, but his public Facebook page included anti-transgender and anti-Islam posts, too. And wow, what a record!
Chicago's open records on police conduct revealed that he also has been the subject of 70 allegations, including accusations of illegal use of force, verbal abuse and criminal misconduct, according to the Citizens Police Data Project. That's more than 99 percent of Chicago police officers. One of the allegations resulted in a five-day suspension.
And sometimes the problem may go a bit beyond the individual cop and that cop's online presence: One sheriff's deputy in Madison County, Mississippi, belonged to a closed Facebook group called "White Lives Matter," but he and his whole damn department are being sued by the ACLU over a decades-long pattern of racism.
Racism was so systematic at the Madison County Sheriff's Department, the ACLU asserts, that the department's blank arrest forms came with two words already filled in: "Black" and "Male."
In a deposition, the deputy said he "may have used the N-word," although he added, "It's not something I'm proud of or do every day." Like maybe just for special occasions, like the time when, according to a fellow deputy, he allegedly "punched an African American man in the face while the man's hands were cuffed." Stressful job, so you need to go to Facebook and blow off some steam.
But wait! Don't these fine people have the right to free speech, meaning they can be as racist as they want on Facebook as long as they manage not to get caught being racist on the job? Not so much, because the public has a 14th Amendment right to equal protection, and there's no way someone posting to "White Lives Matter" or "DEATH TO ISLAM UNDERCOVER" can be presumed to treat all members of the public equally. The Supreme Court has upheld firings of cops and other public employees in cases where speech that would be protected for a civilian can be shown to make someone unfit for a public job.
On the up side, once they're fired, they'll be civilians, and will have a lot more time to make funny jokes about running over protesters with trucks.
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