Changes to Wikipedia pages relating to high profile police brutality cases, particularly that of Eric Garner, have been tracked to the NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan.
Wikipedia is a global encyclopedia, written collaboratively by users from around the world using sources for each claim made. Thousands of changes to Wikipedia are made per hour to the nearly 5 million individual article pages.
Pages with information that may be viewed as uncomplimentary to the behavior of the NYPD have undergone several suspicious edits, minimizing police fault and changing descriptions of the victims’ actions. These changes have been traced back to 1 Police Plaza in New York, the headquarters for the police force.
Garner’s case is not the only one that has been targeted with edits. Other changes tracked to 1 Police Plaza include minimizing police wrongdoing in the text of cases involving NYPD negligent discharge of weapons, like the fatal police shooting that killed Amandou Diallo in 1999 or the page outlining how Sean Bell was shot and killed by police on the morning before his wedding in 2006.
When examples of the changes were presented to the NYPD, spokeswoman Detective Cheryl Crispin wrote that “the matter is under internal review.”
Some of the changes to Eric Garner’s page, found by Capital, include the following:
- “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
- “[P]ush Garner’s face into the sidewalk” was changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
- “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
Further information released by Capital revealed that these changes were not made at a single computer by a single employee, but came from at least 85 different IP addresses at 1 Police Plaza.
According to Newsday, if the changes to Wikipedia were made during office hours, on a department computer, “it could be a violation of department rules subject to disciplinary action.”
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