Protesters want Philadelphia officers fired over racist social media posts

Philadelphia officers under fire

Philadelphia — Protesters in Philadelphia are demanding dozens of police officers be fired for posting racist and other offensive messages on social media. On Wednesday, 72 officers were put on administrative duty. But one day after the officers were pulled off the street, protesters at city hall ratcheted up the pressure on Philadelphia's leaders to go a step further.

The 72 officers are accused of making racist, violent and offensive statements on Facebook. For example, in 2017, a police sergeant posted a Facebook status saying, "Death to Islam." The posts were uncovered by the Plain View Project, led by Philadelphia lawyer Emily Baker-White.

As of Wednesday, there have been 153 homicides in the city, a number that is 9% higher than at the same time last year.

"We understand how this can tarnish or did tarnish our reputation," said Richard Ross, the city's police commissioner.

But City Councilman Curtis Jones, who represents a predominantly African-American district, said his constituents are concerned about something more important, whether the posts are evidence that bias seeped into law enforcement.

"You can have an opinion, but then when you cross the line and act it out while stopping a citizen or interacting with a citizen, how many of those officers actually have active complaints against them? That raises the investigation and concern to a whole other level," he said.

A Chicago non-profit already says there is a correlation. According to Injustice Watch, of 328 officers in Philadelphia who posted troubling content, more than a third appeared to have had one or more federal civil rights lawsuits filed against them.