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The NYPD may be editing the Wikipedia pages of people it killed

The NYPD may be editing the Wikipedia pages of people it killed


Computers linked to the department made numerous edits to pages on high-profile deaths

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A report from Capital New York has traced edits made on the Wikipedia pages of three men killed by New York Police Department officers to computers operating on the department's network at One Police Plaza. Entries about the death of Eric Garner and Amadou Diallo were edited, while a piece on Sean Bell was submitted for deletion. "He [Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable," wrote a Wikipedia user operating from the NYPD's network address.

"Use of the chokehold has been prohibited" was changed to "Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited."

Users editing Wikipedia entries about themselves to be less damming or more flattering is fairly common. There is an entire Twitter account devoted to cataloging edits about Congress made from Congress. But revisions swapping "most unqualified" for "youngest" in describing a politician are far less troubling than attempts to control the historical narrative around the violent deaths of unarmed civilians.

Computers on the NYPD network also edited an entry on its controversial "Stop and Frisk" program as well as deleting sections describing police misconduct, scandals, and corruption from Wikipedia's entry on the NYPD itself. Wikipedia asks editors to avoid conflict of interest, but has little ability to meaningfully trace the source of most changes. The NYPD told Capital New York these edits were "under internal review."