Anyone keeping a close eye on the Death of Eric Garner page at Wikipedia might have noticed a series of edits, some more subtle than others, that cast the NYPD in a positive light. Capital New York reveals the reason: They were made by people at the NYPD. The website tracked IP addresses to find that computers in the police department's network not only made edits to entries about Garner but to entries about Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, stop-and-frisk policies, NYPD leaders, and other police issues. Here's an example of two Garner edits:
- "Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to read, “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
- The line, “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added.
And one on the Bell case:
- In 2009, someone changed “one Latino and two African-American men were shot a total of fifty times” to “one Latino and two African-American men were shot at a total of fifty times.” (Italics added.)
After Capital presented its findings to the NYPD, a spokesperson said the "matter is under internal review." Observes Ars Technica
: "This wouldn't be the first time we've seen nefarious alterations to Wikipedia entries, and it won't be the last. But the disclosure of NYPD's entries by Capital New York come as the Justice Department announced a national initiative for "building community trust and justice" with the nation's policing agencies."