Law Enforcement Caught Falsifying Wikipedia Entries on Police Brutality

IP addresses linked to law enforcement agents in the New York Police Department have been caught red-handed falsifying Wikipedia entries based on police brutality and cases surrounding it.

A total of 85 IP addresses connected to 1 Police Plaza’s servers modified entries for various high-profile police brutality cases today, including editing pages of Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo. The scope of edits and entries by New York law enforcement cannot be accurately identified as the department may use any range of IP addresses. Edits in the entries covered scandals regarding NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program, as well as details involving the departments leadership. Some NYPD IP addresses even attempted to delete entire victim entries and pages related to police brutality.

The agency which operates more than 15,000 IP addresses registered to the department who also employees 50,000 people, including uniformed officers and civilians, has been caught red-handed falsifying police brutality entries with permanent logs against them.

December 3, hours after the Staten Island grand jury ruled NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo to not be indicted regarding to the death again Eric Garner, an employee of the 1 Police Plaza network made multiple successful edits, here and here, to the entry “Death of Eric Garner.” All edits made concerned the actions Eric Garner made against police officers involved in the fatal arrest:

  • “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was altered to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
  • “[P]ush Garner’s face into the sidewalk” was altered to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
  • “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was altered to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
  • “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added to the entry in the description of entry.
  • References to the word “chokehold” were replaced twice throughout the article, once to “chokehold or headlock,” and the other to “respiratory distress.”

Revising and counter revisions to Wikipedia entries are common as it is a user-based community. The website allows anyone to edit entries, either with an account username, or anonymously, where Wikipedia will create a permanent log of the user’s IP address, in turn making it publicly available.

The NYPD has been anonymously editing Wikipedia entries over the past decade, having their public IP address logged in hundreds of anonymous Wikipedia edits, none regarding police altercations. Though, a recent number show an alarming number of edits to entries challenging NYPD officer conduct.

Two years after the Sean Bell shooting incident, an NYPD address tried to delete the entire Wikipedia entry “Sean Bell shooting incident.” After the staff restored the page, the IP address made two edits to the article, altering the wording of the shooting incident.

In 2013, several days after the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed man who was shot reaching for his wallet which was presumed to be a gun in 1999. The department made a total of two edits regarding the altercation.

Included in the edits, the department made continuous edits to an entry related to their “Stop-and-Frisk Program,” where officers can stop and question people. Edits were related to how the program worked, altering the wording of the program.

In 2006, the department deleted over 1,500 characters to the “scandals and corruption” entry, deleting several paragraphs related to several incidents with hopes of censoring them.

In 2008, the department deleted a combined total of over 25,000 characters to the “Allegations of police misconduct and the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)” entry and “Other incidents” entry.

The NYPD has been caught falsifying several Wikipedia entries for years now, some presumably making their way past Wikipedia staff and editors. A list of all anonymous NYPD entry edits can be read here.

An NYPD spokesperson told sources the matter is under internal review.


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