Portland Police using Facebook to try shame and suppress Occupy Protesters
"As inadvisable police tactics around Occupy Wall Street go, this feels
like it's right up there with tear gassing people in wheelchairs: The
Portland, Oregon police department is posting mugshots to Facebook of
people arrested at Occupy Portland. @newyorkist has been dogging them
about it on Twitter, and the Portland Police replied publicly via
Twitter and Facebook that they do this with any 'arrests in cases of a
significant public or media interest,' as part of the department's
'efforts to be continually transparent.' "
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It's completely "transparent" what's going on here. Portland cops are trying to use Facebook as the equivalent of an electronic "perp walk" to try shame protesters and create a "this could happen to you" fear. (Perp walks are the parading of arrested but not yet tried or convicted persons in handcuffs and/or other shackles before the media -- a practice largely unique to the U.S. and some traditionally totalitarian regimes.)
There's obviously no legitimate public safety interest served by this Facebook display (or even such a display on their own Web site). But the cops know that Facebook gives wider exposure, so (they hope) will be more embarrassing.
Meanwhile, during the same period, how many arrests were made related to serious crimes? Why aren't those faces and names listed on Facebook? You know why -- the police know that the lawyers in those cases might go ballistic, but that the protesters are unlikely to be in a position to raise a similar stink. The arbitrary nature of the selections being displayed itself stinks to high heaven.
This may actually backfire on the Portland cops though. Comments are piling up on that Facebook page, overwhelmingly in support of the protesters and against police having posted those materials.
My guess is that the Portland cops may start "editing" that page shortly. I wouldn't be surprised if they start posting anti-protester, pro-police comments as well.
Have you noticed that since 9/11, police forces in this country are behaving more and more like Keystone Cop versions of the Stasi - the old East German secret police? Unfortunately, they're dangerous, not funny.