'Shoot This Thing!': Alarming Posts Fill Cops' Private Group

AP finds transphobic posts about Rachel Levine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 23, 2021 8:54 AM CDT
'Shoot This Thing!': Alarming Posts Fill Cops' Private Group
In this March 23, 2019 file photo, a marcher holds up his fist while staring at police lined up in front of PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh during a protest after a former suburban police officer was acquitted of a homicide charge in the on-duty shooting death of Antwon Rose II in East Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

In a private Facebook group called the Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom, many current and retired officers spent the year criticizing chiefs who took a knee or officers who marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, whom they called "terrorists" or "thugs." The AP reports they made transphobic posts and bullied members who supported anti-police brutality protesters or Joe Biden in a forum billed as a place officers can "decompress, rant, share ideas." Many of the deluge of daily posts were jokes about the hardships of being officers, memorials to deceased colleagues, or conversations about training and equipment. But over the group's almost four-year existence, a few dozen members became more vocal with posts that shifted toward pro-Donald Trump memes and harsh criticism of anyone perceived to support so-called "demoncrats," Black Lives Matter, or coronavirus safety measures.

Some officers suggested police use lethal force, dogs, and water cannons to clear protesters in Pittsburgh following the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose in June 2018. Others complained about a civil settlement in the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., claiming Brown's future earnings would've come from crimes or welfare checks. There were also days of transphobic posts about former Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine—tapped by Biden to be assistant health secretary—for her role in statewide social-distancing mandates. "Someone needs to shoot this thing!!" one retired officer wrote. The AP was able to view posts and comments from the group, which has 2,200 members, including about a dozen current and former police chiefs and at least one judge and one councilman. Facebook says the group has now been removed for policy violations.

(More police officers stories.)

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