An investigation has been launched following racist rants on a Facebook page which appears to have been set up by New York City Police Department officers assigned to the West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn.
In what seems to be a “reckless” public relations disaster the derogatory comments on the public Facebook group described revelers as “filth”, “animals” and “savages.” The internal investigation underway by NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is examining whether any policies have been violated.
The online group, which has since been taken down, called itself “No More West Indian Day Detail,” and said it was intended for “NYPD officers who are threatened by superiors and forced to be victims themselves by the violence of the West Indian Day massacre.”
The postings appeared to voice seething resentment from officers assigned to work the annual Labor Day event, which has been marred by violence in recent years. All of the postings contained names, and some even included a photo of the writer.
“If it is true that police officers made these shocking and racist remarks on Facebook, I would not be surprised,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere.
“Because they wear uniforms and serve and protect, Law enforcement should be held to and hold themselves to a higher moral standard. However, the reality is that when faced with adversity, or a task they may find dangerous, people, in this case cops, kick in to fear mode, and tap in to primal beliefs that are self-protecting but totally unfair and untrue to those they feel threatened by,” says Gardere.
According to the New York Times, a Brooklyn public defender, simply stumbled on the group in the process of representing a client. Benjamin Moore says he was so shocked by the contents he digitally copied the comments.
“A day at the zoo” read one of the posts along with “Drop a bomb and wipe them all out” were just some of the comments on the site.
The Times found that of people who posted comments on the page some 60 percent matched names of city officers. At least one officer said his Facebook account might have been hijacked and others declined to comment to reporters.
The case is a classic example of the perils of social networking web sites, where the distinction between private postings and information in the public domain can easily be obscured.
It is not the first time NYPD has been embroiled in allegations of racism. These comments come in the wake of other statements from NYPD officers, including a racially motivated arrest on Staten Island in April where an officer said he “fried another n——-”, as well as racist language captured in wiretaps during the ticket-fixing investigation in the Bronx.
“There’s a problem with racist attitudes being espounced in comments such as the ones we have seen on Facebook and elsewhere, which has been codified in racist NYPD policies such as ‘Stop, Question, Frisk,’” says Stefan Ringel, a spokesperson for New York City Councilman Jumaane D. Williams.
Williams, who was wrongfully arrested by police at this year’s parade, believes there is a “systemic problem with the culture of the NYPD.”