The slogan for the popular Philadelphia police Web site domelights.com says it's "the voice of the good guys."
But some of those guys use the site as a mouthpiece for racist drivel, according to the Guardian Civic League, an organization of black Philadelphia cops that filed a federal lawsuit yesterday seeking to shut down the site and punish its users.
"If you're a police officer, a sworn officer of the law, and you think that way toward people of color, you shouldn't be here," said Rochelle Bilal, head of the league, which joined the NAACP and other groups in the lawsuit.
In the two years her organization has been monitoring various discussion boards on the site, Bilal said she's come across hundreds of disparaging remarks about blacks made by her fellow officers.
One such statement, "Guns Don't Kill People. Dangerous Minorities Do," was posted last year, and a recent post referred to Northeast Philadelphia campers who were turned away from a Huntingdon Valley swim club as "monkeys."
According to the suit, many of the posts are made throughout the day, by on- and off-duty white officers using city computers.
"We are tired of them," Bilal said.
The city, Police Department and a slew of unidentified site users were also named as defendants.
The privately registered Web site, which has nearly 6,000 users and is not sanctioned by the city or the Police Department, has created a hostile environment for some black officers in the workplace, said Brian Mildenberg, the lawyer who filed the suit.
"[The site founder] creates this thing and it starts to go viral with white racists over the years," he said. "This is really sad."
The site, which was created in 2000, is "devoted to the abolition of political correctness through intelligent discussion and debate," according to a description listed on a domain registration site.
The lawsuit repeatedly refers to the site's founder and administrator, who uses the screen name "McQ." He is believed to be Fred McQuiggan, a Philadelphia police sergeant.
McQuiggan, 47, of Torresdale, joined the force in March 1986.
The lawsuit does not identify McQuiggan, and a person who answered a phone call from the Daily News to a number listed in that name said it was the wrong number.
Mildenberg said that responsibility for the site's content goes beyond its administrator and falls on the Police Department, which failed to act.
"They've received many complaints from the Guardian Civic League and other black groups and individuals," he said. "They have not changed the situation. This cannot go down in a police department."
Asked about the lawsuit yesterday, Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he wasn't familiar with it.
"I've never visited the site personally so I don't know what their issue is," he said on his way into a meeting at City Hall with other department officials.
He added that he had heard of the site. Asked what he had heard about it, he said: "I prefer to stick to the more traditional media outlets for my information."
The Police Department decides who gets Internet access on the job, said Chief Michael Feeney of the department's information technology and communication services.
Usually, access is restricted to commanders, detective supervisors and captain's aides on their assigned computers, he said.
But "more and more [officers] are getting it," he said, noting that it's mainly used for research. *
Staff writer Chris Brennan contributed to this report.