PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hundreds of Philadelphia police officers are facing backlash after they were accused of controversial posts on Facebook. Protesters called for action Friday at a “Rally for Justice.”
So far, 10 police officers have been placed on desk duty, and the police department has hired an independent investigator. Protesters say that’s not enough.
“We want to hold these officers and institutions accountable,” Saudia Durrant, with the Philadelphia Student Union, said.
About 100 protesters gathered outside of police headquarters to make their demands heard.
“Get them off the streets! Off the streets! Off the streets!” protesters chanted.
They want all of the nearly 330 Philadelphia Police Department officers accused of racist and violent posts on social media assigned to desk duty, pending an investigation. Ten officers have already been taken off the streets.
The department came under fire this week after officers, including some ranking sergeants and lieutenants, were outed for alleged racist and violent posts across social media. Thousands of Facebook comments and shared posts have been compiled in a national database called the Plain View Project.
Comments and posts ranged from officers wanting to ram people with Barack Obama bumper stickers; others called those in the Black Lives Matter movement “racist pieces of (expletive.)”
At the rally, Hassan Bennett spoke out, saying he was wrongfully convicted in the murder of his friend back in 2006 after he says Philadelphia Police coerced witnesses to testify against him.
“Two witnesses said he beat them up, physically abused them. One witness said he stood outside the courtroom and told him they can’t come in there when they tried to come and testify for me,” Bennett said.
State Rep. and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Stephen Kinsey wrote a letter to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, asking that the accused officers receive psychological evaluations and ongoing diversity training, and permanent desk duty for others.
“If the power is with the people, then these type of things won’t keep occurring over and over and over,” Kinsey told protesters.
Protesters say they want a meeting with the police commissioner. Meanwhile, the police union says they strongly condemn any racism in the department.
“We strongly condemn violence and racism in any form. The overwhelming majority of our 7-thousand officers regularly act with integrity and professionalism,” Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby said. “We simply ask, who is watching or policing those that target law enforcement with violence, racism and unacceptable behavior? We stand with our officers who serve in our neighborhoods every day and keep us safe.”
CBS3’s Chantee Lans reports.