In a private Facebook group called the Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom, many current and retired officers spent the year criticizing chiefs who took a knee or officers who marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, whom they called “terrorists” or “thugs,” reported The Associated Press. They made transphobic posts 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.”
Many of the deluge of daily posts were jokes about the hardships of being officers, memorials to deceased colleagues or conversations about training and equipment. But 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.
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???”
Some angry members rallied quickly and organized phone calls to her supervisor demanding she be fired.
“Multiple officers should call and report it. Remember NO JUSTICE NO PEACE LOL,” West Mifflin Borough Police Department officer Tommy Trieu responded under his Facebook name, Tommy Bear.
Trieu was one of two West Mifflin officers seen in a video last year restraining a 15-year-old Black girl after responding to a call about a fight on a school bus. Activists called for firing the officers, but borough officials said the recording started after a student hit an officer and that they “did nothing wrong.”
A few members of the group also were bullied or left the page, including an officer who said the Fraternal Order of Police’s Trump endorsement did not represent her and a Black officer who was accused of creating a fake Facebook account to complain about the lack of diversity in local departments.
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.
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