The Plain View Project (PVP) is a meticulous research initiative established in 2017 that consists of a voluminous database identifying thousands of Facebook posts and comments by current and former police officers in eight cities across the country.
Just last week, PVP published an explosive report that included information compiled in 2016 by a team of Philadelphia attorneys. Those lawyers had discovered that local cops were using social media to promote racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, violence, and rape culture.
Here are just 15 examples of such posts and comments:
1. Apprehended suspects, most of whom are Black men, “should be dead.”
2. The image of a bruised and bloodied Black man was used as a sadistic Facebook profile photo.
3. Blacks are like dogs.
4. Blacks shopping at Walmart are “creatures” at “the ghetto mart.”
5. Protesters should be run over by cars.
6. Islam is “a cult, not a religion.”
7. Muslims are “savages” and “goat-humpers.”
8. “Death to Islam.”
9. Certain delinquent kids should be “shot in the face.”
10. Police “should have stuck a gun up... [a suspect’s] butt and pulled the trigger.”
11. “It’s a good day for a chokehold.”
12. In connection with Miranda warnings, I will “f- — -ing throat punch you....”
13. Beating women is funny.
14. Raping women is funny.
15. Certain foreigners should be urinated on.
Oh, and by the way, the complete and lengthy list identifies a total of 505 current and former Philly cops. Of that number, 330 are current, meaning they continue to receive a paycheck to, ahem, “protect and serve the community.” And those 330 are not all lower-level uniformed officers on the street. They include 16 high-ranking officials, namely an inspector, six captains, and nine lieutenants.
Mayor Jim Kenney stated unequivocally that these posts and comments “violate a number of department policies.” And he’s right because the city’s social media policy clearly prohibits “ethnic slurs..., personal insults, and material that is harassing, defamatory..., or discriminatory....”
And District Attorney Larry Krasner said the comments and posts are “going to affect... decisions... [that his prosecutors will] have to make about whether certain officers are called [to testify in court].” In other words, many defense attorneys- me included- will argue during trials and hearings that racist, Islamophobic, thuggish, child-abusing, and/or “rapey” cops have credibility problems because their bias motivated their arrests of certain suspects.
Racism, brutality, and other misconduct by Philly cops are nothing new. In 1979, this city became nationally notorious when its police department became the first in America to be sued by the U.S. Justice Department for having committed or condoned “widespread and severe” acts of police brutality.
And just last year, racist graffiti stating “F — k these n — — s” was scribbled in the male officers’ locker room at the 17th Police District in Point Breeze.
Moreover, in 2009, the police department was sued by the Guardian Civic League, consisting of 2,300 Black police officers headed by then-President Rochelle Bilal who won the Democratic primary election for Sheriff last month. That group filed its class action federal complaint in response to the Domelights.com website created and maintained by a white police sergeant and made popular by other racist white cops. The Black officers’ lawyer and their lawsuit accurately described the site as “racially abusive” and “infested with racist, white supremacist....” content. The site, which had been active for ten years, was finally shut down as part of a 2011 court settlement.
So what are we gonna do about all of this blatant law enforcement racism, Islamophobia, violent thuggery, child abuse, and rape culture? Well, Frederick Douglass provided the answer when he declared in response to injustice, “Agitate. Agitate. Agitate.” That’s exactly why, for example, Solomon Jones, a prominent radio host at the preeminent WURD96.1FM station organized a protest at the Police Administration Building to demand the immediate firing of the guilty cops. Details about this much needed activism will be provided during his upcoming Monday morning “Wake Up With WURD” show.
What else are we gonna do about it? Well, I suggest we continue the agitation by pressuring City Council to issue a formal and unanimous resolution- supported by the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, the Sheriff, the District Attorney, and each of the Philadelphia-based state representatives and state senators- calling on the state legislature to amend the state law that allows cops to, at the least, get away with violating city policy and to, at the worst in some cases, literally get away with murder.
That state law concerns the Philadelphia police arbitration system and is known as Legislative Act 111 of 1968. That act allows a civilian arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association to “ignore findings of fact” regarding brutality, corruption, and other misconduct deemed founded by Internal Affairs Division (IAD) and the Police Board of Inquiry (PBI). The act also allows the arbitrator to “reject the punishment” assessed by IAD and PBI “even if the facts as charged have been proven.” For more information about the brutality/corruption/misconduct-condoning arbitration system, read a powerful and thorough legal analysis by the Philadelphia Bar Association about the system’s inherent and intentional flaws. Although it was written in 2002, it is remarkably timely and prescient in 2019 and beyond. You should read it. And you can do so by logging onto http://www.philadelphiabar.org/page/TPLSpring02CoverStory?appNum=1.