NYPD Revises Police-Brutality History

Attempts to edit and delete Wikipedia entries concerning high-profile police-brutality cases were linked to computers at 1 Police Plaza, headquarters of the NYPD.

1 Police Plaza

By Sheryl Estrada

1 Police Plaza

1 Police Plaza

Edits made to Wikipedia entries describing events surrounding the deaths of Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, including allegations of police brutality, have been linked to computers on the New York Police Department’s network.

The edits tried to make the details of the events appear friendlier to police officers involved.

Capital New York reports that the changes—and even attempts to delete some entries—were linked to computers operating at 1 Police Plaza through a series of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Eighty-five NYPD addresses that have edited Wikipedia pages were identified.

The same day a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s death, several edits to the entry “Death of Eric Garner” were traced to a user on the 1 Police Plaza network.

Capital says changes included:

  • “Push Garner’s face into the sidewalk” was changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
  • “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
  • Instances of the word “chokehold” were replaced twice, once to “chokehold or headlock” and once to “respiratory distress.”

As of March 12, three of these edits (“chokehold or headlock,” “respiratory distress,” and “head down”) remained in “Death of Eric Garner” article, while the rest had been removed in later Wikipedia users’ revisions.

Capital reports a user with an NYPD IP address attempted to delete the Wikipedia entry “Sean Bell shooting incident.” On Nov. 25, 2006, Bell was killed when undercover NYPD officers fired 50 times at three unarmed men.

Also, on Nov. 23, 2013, a user at 1 Police Plaza made two edits to an entry for Diallo, an unarmed man who was killed when police mistook his wallet for a gun.

“Officer Kenneth Boss had been previously involved in an incident where an unarmed man was shot, but remained working as a police officer” was changed to “Officer Kenneth Boss had been previously involved in an incident where an armed man was shot.”

Edits were also made to NYPD scandals, information on the departments Stop and Frisk policy, and the bios of prominent figures in the city’s political and police leadership.

NYPD spokeswoman Detective Cheryl Crispin told Capital the changes are under an internal review.

Wikipedia has become a go-to website for general knowledge about a topic or event, or a starting point for research. It’s the sixth-most-visited website in the U.S. and seventh globally.

The Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia, describes it as “the world’s largest and most popular encyclopedia.” The site has been “added to and edited by millions of people during the past twelve years: anyone can edit it, at any time.”

For that reason, there’s no guarantee the information is up-to-date or even accurate. One does not need to be an expert in a certain field to post gathered facts. And if someone so desires, he or she may even provide misinformation.

Using a permanent Wikipedia log of edits made via NYPD IP addresses, Capital wrote a computer program that would search the site for all anonymous edits made with IP addresses registered to 1 Police Plaza.

Click here for a list of every NYPD IP address with anonymous Wikipedia edits.

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  • Delorme McKee-Stovall

    OMG. Are the residents of New York aware their tax dollars are funding an internal police propaganda machine that is either sanctioned by police administration or until recently an unknown clandestine operation that distorts facts and truth with lies, prevarications that justify violence against civilians?
    What is happening in this nation? The police are emerging as a domestic paramilitary at war with the very people they are sworn to protect. And their party line is they are all victims and we are all suspicious and dangerous enough to justify harassment, brutality and even murder.

  • Greg Thrasher

    The revelation that the NYPD is engaged in propaganda and disinformation on the Internet with regard to their posture with Black citizens of NYC is no newsflash .

    The image of Black Americans has always been contaminated and tainted with negative and often adversarial information about our respect for law and order to our patriotism .

    The negative and often bigoted portrayal of Black Americans has been a stable of the MSM for decades in our nation . Ugly portraits of Black Americans are often used to excluded Black economic opportunities as well as create segregated communities and school districts besides the portrayal of Black Americans as dangerous suspects when they are confronted by our police .

    The NYPD should be a sanctioned by the DOJ for their destructive propaganda targeting Black Americans.

  • The Amadou Diallo case is: haunting, barbaric, sad, merciless, demonic, sadistic, animalistic…nothing and/or no one in this world has ever deserved to be treated as this man was. I am an individual who believes in the power of prayer and that’s what I hold on to in hopes of a better tomorrow…prayer & action.

  • notthatsurprised

    disgusting. truly disappointing and disgusting. The fact that this information is known and nothing (serious) is been done to address this problem is astounding. I mean why not use this opportunity to re-institute trust in your citizens by handling this swiftly and harshly rather than continuing to allow behaviors like this to feed and bolster a sentiment that continues to expand the feelings of bias and disconnect with the African American community and the police. This only perpetuates an “us” vs “them” mentality. Why not take swift action when something like this comes up to show that NYPD is for all and not just some. Smh.

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