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NYPD Edited Police Brutality Wikipedia Entries

IP addresses linked to the NYPD found to have altered Wikipedia pages about Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell

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The NYPD has been editing police brutality Wikipedia entries to make themselves look more attractive.

Eduard Baehler/Getty

Computers traced back to the New York Police Department’s Internet Protocol (IP) addresses have been aggressively editing the details on the Wikipedia entries of many of the city’s most high profile instances of police brutality, and oddly some music-related entries as well. Capital New York reports efforts to make edits and even delete the Wikipedia entries on Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner stemmed from 85 NYPD IP addresses originating from One Police Plaza headquarters computer system.

“The matter is under internal review,” NYPD spokeswoman Det. Cheryl Crispin wrote in an e-mail to Capital. Other instances of NYPD-traced modifications occurred on the entry about “stop-and-frisk,” another page summarizing incidents of police brutality involving the NYPD and a number of entries concerning New York-based politicians. It is unclear who exactly edited the pages.

Capital New York also points out exact instances Wikipedia users operating with the NYPD IP addresses changed entries to subtly downplay certain incidents. In the case of the “Death of Eric Garner” entry, “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited,” and the original description “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was altered to read “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.” While most of the edits were removed by Wikipedia editors, three of the changes made by the One Police Plaza user remain on the Garner entry.

It’s unclear whether one person made all the Wikipedia edits or if numerous NYPD users were involved, since the editors with NYPD IP addresses didn’t just alter pages relating to police matters. One user’s edit history shows evidence of a change made to the Wikipedia pages of Rush singer Geddy Lee, with the user changing “Lee’s favorite bass, a 1972 Fender Jazz that he bought in a pawn shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan” to reflect the correct year the bass was manufactured, 1973.

In another bizarre edit, three members of British band Chumbawamba were removed on the band’s page and curiously replaced with three seemingly random people: “Danny Levine,” “Paul Law” and “Mark Kraljevic.” A search of NY employment records show that all three of those names belong to members of the New York Police Department.

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