Friday morning Capital New York published a blockbuster story about how the New York Police Department has apparently been doing its own damage control on Wikipedia.
The reporters there found that “Computers operating on the New York Police Department’s computer network at its 1 Police Plaza headquarters have been used to alter Wikipedia pages containing details of alleged police brutality.”
Entries found to have been edited by IP addresses associated with the NYPD include pages related to the shooting deaths of Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. In all, Capital New York identified 85 separate NYPD addresses that have edited Wikipedia, which indicates that this may very well have been a coordinated operation and not simply the work of a rogue officer.
Here's a selection of edits Capital New York documented on the Eric Garner page:
- “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
â— “[P]ush Garner's face into the sidewalk” was changed to “push Garner's head down into the sidewalk.”
â— “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
â— 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.
â— Instances of the word “chokehold” were replaced twice, once to “chokehold or headlock,” and once to “respiratory distress.”
Additional edits were also made to a number of NYPD-related pages, including the page on the “stop and frisk” policy. An edit added a claim that officers frisk individuals when they “reasonably” suspect they are in danger.
“The matter is under internal review,” said NYPD spokesperson Detective Cheryl Crispin to Capital New York after they were presented with the revelations.
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