The Associated Press has exposed a private Facebook group called the Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom used by many current and retired officers to post racist and transphobic content.
According to the AP, group members spent the year criticizing chiefs who took a knee or officers who marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, whom they called “terrorists” or “thugs” and bullied members who supported anti-police brutality protesters or Joe Biden in a forum billed as a place officers can “decompress, rant, share ideas.”
“Over the group’s almost four-year existence, a few dozen members became more vocal with posts that shifted toward pro-Donald Trump memes and harsh criticism of anyone perceived to support so-called “demoncrats,” Black Lives Matter or coronavirus safety measures,” according to the report. “In June, Tim Huschak, a corporal at the Borough of Lincoln Police Department, posted a screenshot of an Allegheny County 911 dispatcher’s Facebook page indicating that the phrase ‘Blue Lives Matter’ used by law enforcement supporters is not equivalent to the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ because policing is a choice, not a fact of birth. He wrote: ‘Many negative posts on police. And we should trust her with our lives???’ ”
One post advocated for the murder of former Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine, a transgender woman who oversaw that state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Levine has been nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary of Health in the Biden administration but hasn’t been confirmed by the full senate yet.
Dozens of posts demeaned Levine, calling her names like “it” or “freak” with one now-retired officer posting, “Someone needs to shoot this thing!!”
Other posts defended police brutality, mocked racial justice protestors, and used plainly racist language.
In one example cited by the AP, a post from a retired officer complaining about being stuck in traffic during a racial justice protest drew responses from officers advocating “lethal force” as “protection” after he mentioned having his gun in the car.
Others in the group said the protestors should be cleared with dogs and water cannons the way civil rights protestors were met in the 1960s.
“The Associated Press was able to view posts and comments from the group, which has 2,200 members, including about a dozen current and former police chiefs — from mainly Allegheny County and some surrounding areas stretching into Ohio — and at least one judge and one councilman. After the AP began asking about posts last week, the group appeared to have been deleted or suspended from view.”
Read the full report, here.