Lawsuit alleges racism on police website

July 23, 2009 7:24:16 PM PDT
There are new details in the federal lawsuit filed against the Philadelphia Police Department. It all centers on the website domelights.com.UPDATE: Site accused of racism shuts down

A federal judge is now asking the parties involved in this lawsuit to see if they can come to some sort of agreement before an upcoming court date in August. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has restricted the website domelights.com from city computers, but this case seems far from getting resolved without an order from the court.

"We have complained to people in charge about the website and to no avail."

The website is domelights.com. It's devoted to law enforcement topics, but Guardian Civic president Rochelle Bilal says for years the site and its forums have been filled with blatantly racist and offensive content.

"It got to the point where enough was enough," said Bilal.

Her organization and the NAACP have sued the police department, the website, and its founder - a Philadelphia Police sergeant - on behalf of 2300 black officers. They want a court order forcing the department to ban officers from posting racist material, even on their own time, and to get the operator to remove offensive postings.

On the website police Sergeant Fred McQuiggan, who founded the site, categorically denies any wrongdoing. He says he did not post racist material, does not maintain the website on city time or equipment, and did not create the hostile workplace environment as the lawsuit claims. Still, the plaintiffs argue the city absolutely has the ability to force a police sergeant to shut down the offending website.

"No comment," said a woman who answered the phone when we called Sgt. Fred McQuiggan's home. When we asked if she could refer us to the attorney representing domeleights she says she couldn't do that at this time.

Meanwhile, Judge Rufe is issuing an order asking all parties to preserve all electronic emails and other evidence pertaining to the case.


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