Reporters Went Looking For Racist Cops Online. You'll Definitely Guess What They Found!
Folks, we hope you're ready for this shocking revelation; maybe you should sit down. OK, ready? There are a lot of racist cops out there. Maybe not a majority, maybe not even a large portion, but as a HuffPost story Wednesday detailed, enough to keep several rightwing websites and discussion boards full of a steady diet of conspiracy theories, far-Right grievance politics, and outright racist content. We're sure that comes as a shock to you, following as it does last year's investigations of other rightwing cop groups on Facebook full of racist content, as well as a rightwing private Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol employees that was also full of racist content. We suppose this week's HuffPost story distinguishes itself by finding racist cop-oriented content that's right out there in the open, not hidden away in a private Facebook group. And yes, Officer Friendly has been posting some vile stuff.
Much of the HuffPost piece looks at a news site called Law Enforcement Today, which purports to be "the largest law enforcement-owned and -operated media company in America." Many of the articles' authors are pseudonymous, like a piece calling for the arrest of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, written by multiple "staff writers, including retired and wounded law enforcement officers," under the name "Sgt. A. Merica," Get It? The piece said Dorsey needs to be charged with aiding and abetting "antifa terrorists," and cited a whole bunch of rightwing crazies like Laura Loomer. Along the way, it also suggested that Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar are in league with antifa, and the latter two also probably support ISIS because just look at them, they're Muslims.
The site's real stock in trade is a steady stream of stories about how police face a "war on law enforcement" all over the US, that state and local leaders are part of the attack, and that only Donald Trump really has cops' backs, with occasional uplifting stories about hero cops saving people. Lately, the site has been pushing the narrative that riots following protests against police brutality are full of antifas, probably being bused in by Antifa Central. Here's a typical selection of stories from the site Thursday, redundant "top stories" and all:
We have no idea how that "please understand autism better" story made it into the mix. It actually calls for better training so cops will recognize that autistic folks aren't a threat. It's as if it parachuted in from another universe.
More typical is another story that alleges some monster at an unnamed Washington DC pizza place put glass into pizza delivered to National Guard members who were protecting the city from "rioters." (It's a rehash of a Washington Examiner rehash of a story from a "Department of Defense report shared with the [Charleston] Post and Courier," which leads us to suggest we may be closer to Kevin Bacon than the story was to reality. All three stories note that while the Guard members' superiors advised them to report the incident to police, the DC Metro police said no report was filed. Never mind, it definitely happened.
Law Enforcement Today looks tame in comparison to the other sites HuffPost examines, possibly because it doesn't have a comments section. We'll only focus on the worst of several bulletin boards and private Facebook pages primarily inhabited by cops (or people who say they're cops; this is the internet, after all). That's a bulletin board called "Thee Rant," which started its online life in the early 2000s as "NYPD Rant" but eventually changed its name when the department reached a 2008 settlement in a lawsuit with its founder, a fired NYPD cop. The site says it's a forum for "New York City Cops speaking their minds," and HuffPost notes that for much of its existence,
members have only been able to sign up with valid NYPD IDs, meaning its content has come directly from New York law enforcement. HuffPost could not independently verify if this is still the case — a request to join the group has not been approved — but posters continue to demonstrate an intimate familiarity with the department, its operations and its officials.
And goddamn, even if the participants only make up a tiny percentage of New York cops, these are some rotten apples in a very foul barrel.
Thee Rant posts in the past three weeks have described [George] Floyd as a "mutt" and a "worthless thug," Black people as "Negroids" and "ghetto rats," and protesters as "scum." Various posts call for violence against protesters and spread debunked conspiracy theories that are often sourced to far-right media outlets, including Breitbart, One America News Network and The Federalist.
One post, referring to the recent arrest of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's mixed-race daughter, Chiara, is titled "DeBlasswhole's Junkie Daughter Collared." Another, "White Men Stand Up To Negroid Thugs And Looters In Philly," cheered on a group of bat-wielding white men who reportedly intimidated protesters and assaulted a journalist in Philadelphia. A June 5 post called "BUFFALO PD KNOCKDOWN IS A HOAX" claimed that a video of police officers violently shoving [Martin] Gugino to the ground, causing him to bleed from his ears, was staged to make cops look bad.
Other posts included a spirited debate over whether antifa — which may as well mean all protesters — would best be dealt with by firing squad, napalm, or snipers. We visited the site, which only requires a login to post, not to read, and found this thread on the murder charges against the cop who shot Rayshard Brooks in the back, which included this witty string of commentary:
"BROOM" (Sgt. Rock avatar): Why would a White Man want to join the Atlanta PD where almost 60% are African; or for that matter the NYPD, now well over 50% black/brown/yellow?
The third world is not coming; it's already arrived!
"Dominop": Why would anyone want to join any PD? Percentage wise those whose lives matter commit a overwhelming amount of the felonies, and yet if the cops take any action the cops are the bad guys!
"NJ BLUE": The young do not see what we see....they were born in 1996....today they are 22-24 years old....they grew up in a world where mixed race couples are a accepted....listening to rap and brainwashed in college....to them your generation is Americas Nazis....They'll do it until they are individual victims of these administrations
There are also fun threads on how white people never rioted when Black people killed white victims; and of course a thread calling for an outbreak of "blue flu" on July 4.
But be of good cheer: NYPD is aware of the site, and is firmly against it, not that the department is going to do anything about these unfortunate outliers from the department's best values:
Thee Rant has for years been a source of embarrassment to the NYPD, which has said it's been unable to take action due to the users' anonymity.
"We see it. It's a problem," Stephen Davis, at the time the chief spokesperson for the NYPD, told ProPublica of the message board in 2015. But, he added, "there are privacy issues involved. We can't go and peel back email names and tags and try to find out who these people are."
Thee Rant posters "represent the worst elements of the department," veteran police reporter Leonard Levitt, who died last month, said at the time. "I don't think they speak for the average cop."
Ah well, the department can't take action against people for abhorrent views that are absolutely protected by the First Amendment, can it? HuffPost doesn't go into that, but hell yes, NYPD could, if it had any integrity. Courts have held that when officers express repugnant, racist views that bring into question their ability to treat all members of the community fairly, then hell yes they can be fired. Racist speech by cops doesn't have absolute protection under the First Amendment, because people on the receiving end of law enforcement have a 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. As Oliver Wendell Holmes put it way back in 1892, a cop "may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be a policeman."
So yes, maybe NYPD should do something to clean out the rot. Seems a better approach than busting heads forever.
[HuffPo / ProPublica / Lexipol]
Yr Wonkette is 100 percent ad free! Please help us stay that way by donating, if you can. F the Police — by which we mean Fourteenth Amendment them.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.