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July 21st, 2009
09:36 AM ET

Racist rants condoned by cops, suit says

There are some disturbing claims of racism in the Philadelphia Police Department. African-American officers have filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the department allowed fellow officers to post "blatantly racist, anti-minority, and offensive content” on a popular Web site used by police officers.

Rochelle Bilal is a Philadelphia police officer and the president of the Guardian Civic League, an African-American police organization. She and the league’s attorney, Brian Mildenberg, spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

Kiran Chetry: Michelle, just set the stage. This Web site is called What is it?

Rochelle Bilal: It's supposed to be a forum where police officers can discuss the ills of society.

Chetry: All right. And what has it sort of turned into? When did you notice it turned into a site where there was a lot of racial bashing going on?

Bilal: Probably when they kicked me out after I went on to try to discuss some of the things that was going on and I was kicked out. From that point I haven't went on it.

Chetry: Brian, you have been monitoring this Web site for ten years? Did you bring it to the attention of the department that you thought perhaps there were some things written on here that were not in the best interest of a lot of the police officers on the force?

Brian Mildenberg: We haven't been monitoring the site for ten years. The site has been up for ten years. My law firm investigated the site for the past year. And there have been racist postings on this Web site from day one by the active duty Philadelphia police sergeant who created this Web site. The Web site contains very racist postings like this one, which says “guns don't kill people, dangerous minorities do.”

It contains all kinds of racist rants and raves. And the scary thing is that the people participating in this Web site, that's being run by an active Philadelphia police sergeant, are other police officers, including captains and lieutenants of the Philadelphia police force. We're learning in recent days that Internet access is apparently restricted in the police force to only higher level police officials. So we're learning that apparently this is reaching up to the higher levels of the captains and lieutenants and sergeants in the Philadelphia police force who are apparently posting racist commentary and materials against African-Americans and intimidating racist commentary against African-Americans and against Rochelle Bilal in particular. They are posting these on the Internet.

Chetry: You are saying that after the lawsuit came to light – this suit that you are filing – it started to get pretty personal about Rochelle?

Mildenberg: That's right. They made some remarks that are very difficult to even discuss here. Including: suggesting that she should be, heaven forbid, sexually assaulted; calling her all kinds of the worst type of racial names that one could imagine.

Chetry: I read it too. And it isn't comfortable to talk about on television. A couple of the other ones that are not as offensive as some – here's one of the other postings on this site: “In urban areas it seems [African-Americans] living on welfare in paid-for housing is ingrained in their culture, as well as fighting.” You mentioned some of the people you think are behind this Web site. Who do you think, Rochelle, is behind a lot of this? Given that these are all officers who are supposed to be, basically, a fraternity of police officers working with one another.

Bilal: Cowards. Bigots with badges. They go on here and express their hurtful, hateful racist views because they are afraid to stand up and face people toe-to-toe with their comments. Cowards.

Chetry: Brian, this Web site is not run by the city. We asked the Philadelphia Police Department for comment and they declined, saying it's not a city-sanctioned site. Do you still believe the police department in the city of Philadelphia is responsible?

Mildenberg: I do, because while it may not be sanctioned, apparently, by the city according to their official policy – it's being run by captains, lieutenants, sergeants. These are high level law enforcement officers of the city of Philadelphia. You can't hide behind – you can’t say officially we don't sanction it and then have your managers and officers and agents of the police force being the ones conspiring to place it there and to post on it.

Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. mt airy resident

    To the Phoenixville resident: I can guess why you live in Phoenixville and I hope you don't represent the majority population of your hood.
    I'm sure you don't have to worry about racism or police brutality in the police dept where you live. Oh! I forgot, you're probably white.


    August 6, 2009 at 8:03 pm |
  2. Phoenixville Resident

    ZXE – Your accusations are serious and I would axk for some proof; without it I would ask the moderator to remove the vile comments from this board! MS. Bilal needs to take her circus on the road, oh she has already done that if the problems were indeed in Philadelphia as you claim there would be no reason for her and her followers to travel outside of the city limits. The communities that I discussed above DID NOT have problems prior to her arrival and left others to clean up after her visit. Funny how there is no trouble prior to her arrival, maybe she IS the PROBLEM!

    July 24, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  3. ZXE

    I commend Ms. Bilal,she is standing up to the real bad guys out
    there. These pointy heads blue by day and white by knights have
    been on the force for years,fathers,grandfathers,uncles and they
    are very comfortable with their actions. They steal promotional tests
    and answers so stay ahead. They shoot fellow cops. Lie and plant
    false evidence. Some cops are good people but there are bad
    apples in all walks of life,it just shouldn't be tolerated in some areas
    especially where the public is being served,it is a matter of life
    and as serious as death.

    July 23, 2009 at 7:15 pm |
  4. Phoenixville Resident

    Bilal and her cronies (Maribel and Hampton) have been to Phoenixville Boro (2002), PA trying to stir up racial issues that DID NOT EXIST in our towns police department or in our local government.

    They failed. They then moved to Norristown for another issue,FAILED THERE TOO! Why is it that everything needs to be racial? Why is then when the best qualified person gets the job it is racial? The bigger question is when will it end?

    This site is not a police site owned or operated by the city of Philadelphia. It is not operated on city time or equipment. The site requires a user name and password to see postings and I would almost equate that to a club. If it is there club, let them have it, you obviously have yours.

    July 23, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  5. David MacDonald

    Sounds like Freedom of Speech. Where's the ACLU?

    July 22, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  6. Roberto

    Are you absolutely sure that the racist postings are by white persons?

    July 22, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  7. Ed

    It makes sense to officially investigate these asertions. The police department itself as well as attorneys of arrested citizens may wish to supeana the records and IP addresses of the posters from the site. Racist posts by police officers are evidence of extreme bias which makes their arrests and their testimony and other actions suspect. Racist posts by police officers call into doubt their ability to enforce the law effectively.

    July 22, 2009 at 7:33 am |
  8. Ray

    As long as affirmitive action is in place how can any non white cry racism ?

    July 21, 2009 at 7:36 pm |
  9. Hagereseb

    Oh well, what is news here? I have come to a conclusion that white police men are human and they all have their own opinions about race, minorities and blacks. And just like the many other white racist men and women in the US, they too can be racist. The only problem is a lot of people are playing it safe by hiding their feelings and pretending to be 'fair' and 'impartial. Whenever stuff like this case comes up, I applaud the racists, because I appreciate their honesty. All you white americans, just because you voted for Obama, doesn't mean you are not racist. Actually, most of the white people in the US, I am sorry to say this, are racist. It is just they way they were raised, taught and brainwashed. Good job police officers!! At least now we know what you really are, how crooked and nasty you are, and we can be careful. What I am scared of are those who have smiles on their faces, but hatred and racism on their hearts and minds. With those you don't know what to expect, and that scared the hell out of my black ass!!

    July 21, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  10. LadyDi-Florida

    Seems like these people knew this site was there for 10 years. Now all of a sudden it is the most offensive thing they've ever seen?? Why is it minorities have to read racism into every thought or remark? It was the cop's site, they ran it, they commented on it, they let off steam on it & it was their personal site. It's a shame it has been shut down, cause the few comments I read were true. Sometimes the truth hurts. It just so happens that the statements were about blacks & minorities-and the stats do prove our prisons are full with them, that they commit the most crimes, etc. So why do you get so pissed when the truth is put in writing by the very men & woman who have to arrest & deal with all this dangerious crime & who see it first hand & have to put their life on the line every day to protect us? You just need to stop playing the race game all the time & getting all high & mighty about being insulted; that these terrible cops should be punished for printing the truth. If you don't like it, don't go to the site! Sorry, I'm just not on your side on this one...

    July 21, 2009 at 11:55 am |