Saturday, March 14, 2015

NYPD computers used to change police-brutality Wikipedia pages

Computers linked to Police Headquarters were used to scrub anti-cop rhetoric on some Wikipedia pages that described cases of alleged police brutality, officials said Friday.
Eighty-five IP addresses that are registered to the NYPD’s vast computer network were used to change the information on pages for Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, according to Capital New York.
Police Headquarters staffs more than 3,000 employees ranging from top-ranking officials to civilian call-takers, and has more than 15,000 registered IP addresses — a dozen of which were linked to “notable” Wikipedia activity, the Web site reported.
One anonymous user made multiple changes to Garner’s page on the free-access information site on the same night a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s death.
The phrase “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was edited to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke,” and the words “push Garner’s face into the sidewalk” were changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
Language that Garner was placed in a “chokehold” was changed two times — once to “chokehold or headlock” and another to “respiratory distress.”
And added to the description of the July 2014 altercation was the sentence, “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them.”
A user on the NYPD’s network also tried deleting the page for “Sean Bell shooting incident” altogether in 2007, a year after the man was shot dead by police in Queens.
“[Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable,” the user said on Wikipedia’s “Articles for deletion” page.
Wikipedia allows anyone to edit its entries — either with an account or anonymously. The site logs an anonymous user’s IP address and creates a public record of the edits.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said the various edits didn’t come from computers at One Police Plaza.
“We’re looking into remote servers. It could have been on any computer linked to the NYPD,” he said, adding that an internal investigation is ongoing.
Sources told The Post that changes made while Ray Kelly was commissioner weren’t officially sanctioned or coordinated to add a pro-NYPD spin.
Additional reporting by Natasha Velez and Lia Eusta
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