A grassroots database has collected hundreds of social media posts that expose the apparent pattern of racism among Phoenix, Arizona, police officers.
The Plain View Project was launched in fall 2017, but the posts it has collected pertaining to cops in the capital city of Arizona are making waves after a writeup from the nonprofit newsroom Injustice Watch in collaboration with BuzzFeed News. PVP exposes racist imagery and memes espoused by many current and highly paid Phoenix police officers. The officer’s pay can be found on the city portal.
“CONGRATULATIONS GEORGE ZIMMERMAN!!! Thank you for cleaning up our community one thug at a time,” he wrote in response to Zimmerman being acquitted of murdering the 17-year-old.
Another post made by officer David Pallas in June 2016 was a meme he shared of former first lady Michelle Obama saying, “Every day I wake up in a house that was built by slaves.” Below it, a photo of late actor John Wayne, who has made headlines for his racist comments, was included. It read, “Then get out!! And take your gay Muslim husband with you.”
Obama’s husband, former President Barack Obama, was also not spared. He was included in a meme with Looney Tunes character Elmer Fudd shooting his head off after he tells the fictional character, “I’m here for your gun!”
“You want my gun, Barack? Here you go!” it was captioned.
Reuben Carver III, who has been on the force since 2002, said in a March 2011 Facebook post “It’s a good day for a chokehold.”
Other posts see cops commenting and referring to Black people as “thugs.” Charles Kirkland, a current police officer on the force, shared a link in June 2016 espousing the importance of Black fathers being in the home, indicating their absence is a bigger threat to the community than racism.
Such bigotry is not limited to Phoenix. Plain View Project has compiled similar lists for several cities, including Dallas, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, to name a few.
In response to the Arizona database, local police union president Mike “Britt” London issued a statement to the Arizona Republic defending the officers.
“People — including cops — say things they regret or that are unfortunate,” London said in a statement, calling Injustice Watch an “anti-police organization.” “But to judge an entire police department by a few social-media posts is doing a grave disservice to the nearly 3,000 sworn officers who work the front lines in Phoenix every day.”
After the department was contacted about Carver during the Injustice Watch/BuzzFeed research process, Phoenix Sgt. Vince Lewis said the force “is aware of the remaining report now available to us online and will be looking into other potential misconduct by current employees,” the Arizona Republic reported.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, who is Black, issued a statement to various local outlets in response to the exposed posts Monday, June 3.
“I became aware of the entire website today which alleges misconduct by current and former Phoenix Police officers. The language and terminology used in the posts are embarrassing and disturbing. They completely contradict how the Phoenix Police Department should speak about the members of our community or others,” Williams said.
“Nor are these posts in keeping with our mission and values as city of Phoenix employee,”. she continued. “I have high expectations for the men and women who work with me. When potential misconduct is brought to my attention, it is immediately addressed. I have asked our Professional Standards Bureau to look further into this matter.”