Facebook posts or comments attributed to 15 high-ranking members of the Philadelphia Police Department — a police inspector, six captains, and eight lieutenants — were among those included in a database published Saturday by a group researching what it considers police bias.
The researchers for the Plain View Project, led by lawyer Emily Baker-White, said those posts and hundreds of others were flagged because they raised concerns. Attempts to reach the high-ranking police Monday were unsuccessful except in two instances, in which both men declined to comment. A police spokesperson said none would be made available for interviews because the matter is under investigation.
Here is a summary of some of the highlighted posts.
The inspector flagged by the Plain View Project, D F Pace, was cited for commenting on a March 16, 2016, post allegedly made by Police Officer Anthony Pfettscher about American college student Otto Warmbier, who was accused of stealing a propaganda poster in North Korea. (Warmbier died in 2017 after being imprisoned in North Korea.)
Pfettscher’s Facebook post called the case “an eye opener to how spoiled and coddled our youth of today are here in this weak PC country. Yet they act like animals and burn and step on our Flag that so many of our children died for defending our rights and our country.”
Pace allegedly remarked: “Insightful point.”
According to his LinkedIn page, Pace “focuses on balancing constitutional protections and civil rights with public safety,” and wrote that he heads the department’s Police Board of Inquiry.
The captains whose alleged Facebook posts or comments were included in the database are Adam Friedman, George Mullen, Frank Palumbo, Javier Rodriguez, Jarreau Thomas, and Edward Thompson.
In an August 2015 post, Mullen shared a meme of the late African American entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. holding a microphone and pointing at the viewer. The words on the image were: “Instead of Hands Up Don’t Shoot How About Pull Your Pants Up Don’t Loot.”
Later, in November 2015, Mullen allegedly posted a video that had been on the Young Conservatives group’s website that was described by the organization as “Idiot BLM [Black Lives Matter] Protestor Tries Blowing Whistle in Cops Face When This Ends up Happening....” (The video is no longer online.)
Above the video, Mullen allegedly wrote: “Never thought I would see the day that this is acceptable behavior. What world are we living in.”
When one unidentified commenter wrote that “this piece of s— should have been arrested,” Mullen, now a captain in the Command Inspections Bureau, appears to have responded: “Sure should have been. If there was video of a police officer screaming in the mans face like this he would surely be disciplined and possibly fired. It’s a shame. This would have never occurred 10 years ago.”
According to the database, in November 2015 Friedman, now captain of the 8th District in Northeast Philadelphia, shared a post showing three photos of men walking. Below the photos, posted two months earlier by someone whose name was redacted, were the words: “Latest ‘starving’ refugees from Syria. These guys look like frigging Soldiers to me.” One commenter, whose name also was redacted, wrote: “Not only was this picture taken in 2013, it was taken in Australia. It’s one of the many rumors being spread around social media.”
Palumbo was flagged for two posts in 2010. That September, he allegedly wrote about the controversial “Ground Zero Mosque” planned for New York City: “It is BS that Islam is a peaceful religion, spewed by those who have never read the Koran. Take a close look at the Koran and you will see that it advocates viol[e]nce throughout against we ‘infidels’ and that Islam has always been spread by the sword.”
In November, Palumbo allegedly posted this statement about the 6th Police District, which covers Center City east of Broad Street, Old City, Society Hill, and a part of North Philadelphia: “We don’t get many shootings except N of Spring Garden, but there r constant robberies and thefts from legitimate complainants by parasites that stick out like sore thumbs. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”
Palumbo, captain of the Court Evidence Unit, declined to comment when reached by phone Monday.
The database included one post by Rodriguez, captain of the 25th District in North Philadelphia. In February 2015, he allegedly shared a link to a BBC News story titled “India police seek ‘brutal’ rape suspects” and wrote above it: “They need to start castration as punishment before putting these animals away for life!!!!!!!!!”
Thomas, captain of the Police Athletic League and whom the Plain View Project identified as using the name “Westly Jae” on Facebook, was flagged for two posts. On July 25, 2014, he allegedly shared a 6ABC story about two men who hijacked an SUV, then slammed it into a woman and three of her children who were selling fruit in North Philadelphia, killing them. (The children died that day, the mother two weeks later.)
Thomas allegedly wrote above the news story: “Straight up Animals in this town. ....freakin Animals.....Folks can hold protest about a false claim when some kid lied about his testicles being yanked. ...but won’t lift a finger when the real monster who terrorizes your neighborhood every day shows itself.”
In June 2014, Thomas allegedly shared a story on the World Star Hip Hop website about a pregnant woman who worked in a cell phone store and was being attacked. He allegedly wrote “smh” (for shaking my head) above the post and also commented underneath: “Animals."
Thomas, reached by phone Monday, declined to comment. He confirmed that he uses “Westly Jae” as his Facebook name, but said he didn’t recall the 2014 posts.
Thompson made one comment on a post allegedly made by Police Sgt. Mark Palma on Aug. 25, 2017, in which Palma wrote: “Good job Central Detectives. The loud mouth school teacher took a pinch.” Thompson commented: “Love it.” According to his LinkedIn page, Thompson was a captain in the Command Inspections Bureau, but it was not immediately clear if he was still there.
The schoolteacher apparently was John Edward Sheerin, who was arrested that day and charged with terroristic threats and harassment after he allegedly made verbal threats of violence to a Philadelphia police officer during a protest earlier that month near the Frank L. Rizzo statue outside the Municipal Services Building.
One of eight lieutenants flagged by the Plain View Project, Joseph Acavino Jr., allegedly posted in June 2012 that he was at a Walmart and couldn’t believe that people were bringing children to the store at 2:15 a.m.: “Then I get to see the drains on society use the little green card (ACCESS), TO BUY THINGS THAT THERE [sic] FAT, UNEMPLOYED A$$’S DON’T NEED. I HOPE THEY CHOKE ON THE JUNK FOOD THAT THERE [sic] BUYING RIGHT NOW. These useless scum would fade off to a slow demise if it weren’t for our great system that we have. Those who contribute so little, are always the one’s who take so much.”
Staff writer Nathaniel Lash contributed to this article.