Edits to the Wikipedia pages of police brutality victims, including Eric Garner and Sean Bell, were traced to computers operating on the New York Police Department’s network at their 1 Police Plaza headquarters, according to a Capital New York review.
The changes, many of which were edits that supported police narrative, were made by anonymous Wikipedia users with NYPD-based IP addresses, Capital reports. Using a computer program written to search for edits made on IP addresses registered to the police headquarters, Capital succeeded in rounding up at least a dozen NYPD addresses that made “notable” Wikipedia activity over the past 10 years.
In one case, the word “chokehold” was replaced by “respiratory distress” in the “Death of Eric Garner” Wikipedia page.
If you recall, Garner, a father of six, died during an exchange with an officer who placed him in a prohibited chokehold in July 2014. The Capital review also revealed changes regarding the use of chokeholds by police officers that were traced to NYPD computers.
“Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
Other entry changes seem to paint a menacing or threatening picture of Garner, who was apprehended on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes. During the arrest, Garner told officers multiple times that he could not breathe. Edits, however, suggest Garner’s mere size prompted the officers’ use of excessive force.
● “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
● “[P]ush Garner’s face into the sidewalk” was changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
● The sentence, “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added to the description of the incident.
According to the review, the changes were made after a Staten Island jury elected not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s death. Edits absolving officers of questionable conduct or supporting narratives can be found throughout Capital’s extensive review. In another instance detailed by Capital, an anonymous user attempted to delete the Wikipedia entry for Bell, the young black male who was shot at 50 times in November 2006.
“He [Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable,” the user wrote on Wikipedia’s internal “Articles for deletion” page.
In another entry dedicated to police brutality victim Amadou Diallo, a user on the 1 Police Plaza network changed a sentence about NYPD Officer Kenneth Boss to reflect that his involvement in an incident where an unarmed man was shot was justified because the man was “armed.” And in yet another edit (made in 2008), a user deleted the entire “Allegations of police misconduct and the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)” and “Other incidents” sections from the NYPD entry page.
The NYPD is reportedly looking into the incidents, Mediate reports.
To read the entire list of edits made by users on the NYPD network, click here.
SOURCE: Capital | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty