Protesters call for more action over Philadelphia police officers' social media posts

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A group of activists rallied at Philadelphia Police Headquarters Friday in the wake of controversial social media posts from some officers.

The posts were compiled in a database by the Plain View Project and published last weekend by Injustice Watch, a not-for-profit journalism organization.

Attorney Emily Baker-White reviewed public posts of more than 14,000 officers in eight cities, including Philadelphia; York, Pennsylvania; Dallas; St. Louis and Phoenix. According to Injustice Watch, of the more than 1,000 Philadelphia officers identified on Facebook by Baker-White, 328 of them posted troubling content.

Many of the comments called for violence against Muslims, protesters, immigrants, and those accused of crimes. Some posts celebrated police brutality and, in a few cases, called for violence against women.

The "Rally for Justice" protest began around noon at 8th and Race streets. The protest was organized by author and activist Solomon Jones.

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While several Philadelphia police officers are now on leave and gave up their service weapons, the protesters are demanding all of the officers who posted the content be investigated and removed from street duty.

The protestors believe those officers have alleged ties to controversial Facebook posts that have been called racist, sexist, dehumanizing and supportive of violence.

Nicolas O'Rourke with the interfaith group Power says officers are suppose to be patrolling the streets and keeping people safe. But actually, "Talk about us like we are dogs, animals, apes, and gorillas."

In the crowd, retired State Representative Harold James is also a retired police officer. He said, "Officers posting racist hurtful comments shouldn't be on the street serving our community."

"We want them fired if they're found to be in violation of policy. We want them charged if they're found to be in violation of the law. And those who are clear and have not done anything to rise to that level, then they can be put back on the street. But they need to be put back on the street after the investigation is complete," said activist Solomon Jones.

Jones hopes to meet with Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Richard Ross about the protesters' demands sometime in the next 10 days.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said an independent law firm will help the department investigate those posts.

He said the firm will help investigate each case individually before any disciplinary action is taken.

Ross is also implementing anti-racist, anti-bias and social media training for all police personnel.

At this point, ten officers are on desk duty.

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Some Philadelphia police officers placed on leave over social media posts, sources say. Watch this report from Action News at 4pm on June 6, 2019.

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