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13 Philadelphia cops first to be fired for racist, homophobic Facebook posts

In this image, a man speaks at a podium while a woman holds a sign behind him saying "Good cops denounce bad cops""
Philadelphia community members and activists discuss police officers' racist social media posts on June 20. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

13 Philadelphia police officers will be fired after a 30-day suspension for making racist and homophobic posts on Facebook, many of which advocated violence, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: These officers are among the 3,500+ identified by the nonprofit Plain View Project, which catalogues public Facebook posts by former and active duty officers that appear to endorse racism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, general violence or police brutality. Police departments in at least 5 statesTexas, Missouri, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida — said they began investigating their officers' social media feeds last month.

  • 25 officers in Dallas, Texas faced disciplinary measures earlier this month after an internal review of their Facebook posts, which "included joking about police shooting victims." 4 of the officers were placed on administrative leave.
  • In Missouri, St. Louis Circuit attorney Kimberly Gardner added 22 of the involved officers to a list of those "who are not allowed to bring cases to her office."

Reality check: From 2006-2017, the largest police departments in the U.S. "fired at least 1,881 officers for misconduct that betrayed the public’s trust," the Post reports. 450 of those officers were later reinstated "after appeals required by union contracts," although in many cases their "underlying misconduct was undisputed."

The backdrop: The Plain View Project was launched in 2017 by attorney Emily Baker-White. The project's database includes posts dating back to 2013 and is funded by private donations, per AP. A joint investigation by BuzzFeed and Injustice Watch, the latter of which served as the project’s fiscal sponsor, brought the database into the national news cycle last month.

Go deeper: Local police increasingly clash with federal law enforcement on body cameras