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Following an uproar over edits to Wikipedia pages about men who have died at the hands of police, including Eric Garner, the New York Police Department has identified the culprits — two veteran officers, reports DNAinfo New York.
But don’t look for the officers to face strong disciplinary action for the revisions that favor police, the report warns. The officers, who have not been named, will likely only face minor reprimands, the report says.
They are expected to be spoken to by Internal Affairs Bureau investigators, but barring any additional infractions, sources said they will not face any punishment for what they did to the Wikipedia pages.
Since Wikipedia is a publicly accessed and edited web encyclopedia, it’s not inappropriate for NYPD officers or anyone else to visit pages and edit references they believe are technically inaccurate, sources said.
“That is their First Amendment right,” a law enforcement source said.
If you recall, the changes, many of which were edits that supported police narrative, were made by anonymous Wikipedia users with NYPD-based IP addresses, according to a Capital report. Using a computer program written to search for edits made on IP addresses registered to the police headquarters, Capital succeeded in rounding up at least a dozen NYPD addresses with “notable” Wikipedia activity over the past 10 years.
In one case, the word “chokehold” was replaced by “respiratory distress” in the “Death of Eric Garner” Wikipedia page.
The changes come at a critical time for the NYPD and residents in the Black community. Protests erupted last November when an officer was cleared after putting Garner, a Staten Island father, in a fatal chokehold. The demonstrations mirrored those across the nation, as communities continue to protest police brutality against Blacks.