THREAD. A rare thing is happening today: we are about to get a window into the secret world of how cops shape the news. There's a hearing this afternoon into how San Francisco cops manipulate the media through “strategic communications.” The internal documents are shocking.
As background, major U.S. police departments spend millions to manipulate the news, but we know almost nothing about it. Los Angeles, for example, has at least 67 full-time employees doing media propaganda work:
Before today's hearing, newly released documents show some amazing stuff: SFPD has **9 full-time employee positions** dedicated to “strategic communications” and “media relations.” These cops are “supplemented” by an undisclosed number of non-full-time cops who do it on the side.
The Director of the propaganda unit at the San Francisco Police Department costs taxpayers $289,423.
In a bombshell revelation, docs show that SFPD employees a “full-time videographer” to make video glorifying SFPD. The videographer costs taxpayers $120,941.
Cops employing videographers to create propaganda is happening all over, increasingly after the murder of George Floyd. Take a look at what cops in LA made with taxpayer dollars yesterday:
The SFPD has another secretive unit called “Community Engagement Division,” which internal docs show is ordered to work closely to “plan messaging priorities.”
The "Community Engagement Division" is SF’s version of the counterinsurgency efforts developed by military for occupations but now common in U.S. police forces.
Among other things, the unit does sophisticated focus-group style “surveys” to inform manipulation of public opinion, and it is tasked with early strategic intervention with families of people killed by cops. It’s vital for cops to try to control how these families react.
Buried in the documents is a chilling revelation: after police murder someone, a Sergeant has ordered: “all members of the Media Relations team should closely monitor social media for posts, video, etc. related to the [killing].”
Right after a murder, cop PR machine springs into action. It’s all planned. Think about how this impacts the first reports you see after police kill someone. Do you remember how Minneapolis police reported George Floyd's death? Image
I noticed another fascinating thing in the SFPD docs. While SFPD talks a lot about “theft" in their press releases, they never mention wage theft, white collar crime, state tax evasion, or white collar crimes. They relentlessly talk about *some* crimes committed by *some* people.
SFPD and Mayor also never draw attention to the fact that Black people in SF are 11-times more likely to be the victims of SFPD use of force. Instead, “strategic communications” repeatedly claims that “reform has worked.”
So, what is the effect of all this "Strategic Communications"? Just look at what the relentless expenditure of millions of dollars and full-time police staff has done to the San Francisco Chronicle’s reporting:
Here is a photo from the internal police documents of cops with local San Francisco TV news reporters, celebrating their collaboration. Image
All of this is chilling. It’s Orwellian to see public money spent on highly-paid cops to create propaganda that tricks the public into focusing on objectively less serious threats to their safety and on the wrong solutions—more money for surveillance and cops—to those problems.
I’ll be testifying today at the Board of Supervisors hearing as we try to learn more about how fully cops have infiltrated what the local media covers and how it covers those issues. You can watch here
I hope you’ll demand similar hearings into copaganda wherever you live.
The Committee for today's hearing is the Government Audit and Oversight Committee, and you can check the linked website this morning for the appropriate link to the video stream.
UPDATE: This story just gets weirder: A few months ago, @radleybalko at Washington Post debunked pro-cop coverage by a local reporter. Here are text messages from SFPD Director of "Strategic Communications" to the reporter from a public records request.… ImageImage
In these texts, SFPD propaganda official tells reporter "Thank God for you." The reporter then asks for cops to "protect" her. SFPD official then tells her she has 'a lot of fans" in "our department." He ends "Keep up the great work."
This Director of the police propaganda division sending these texts celebrating misinformation is now being considered by the Mayor to be appointed as one of the Board of Supervisors.

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More from @equalityAlec

May 6
THREAD. Yesterday I was invited to testify at San Francisco Board of Supervisors about newly revealed documents showing big taxpayer expenditures on copaganda. The behavior of one the "progressive" Supervisors @RafaelMandelman was alarming. It's important to explain what he did.
My presentation focused on the basics of police propaganda, which people call copaganda, and why SF police spend so much money manipulating the news behind the scenes. I explained that there are three primary functions of copaganda in recent SF police and media communications.
First, copaganda narrows our conception of "safety" to a small category of individual crimes that cops report, not larger criminal and non-criminal threats to safety from inequality, pollution, lack of health care, housing, wage theft, gender-based violence, etc.
Read 10 tweets
May 3
THREAD. In moments like this, it's important to highlight that the way that unjust laws get enforced against people's bodies is through the state violence of police, prosecutors, and prisons.
As I show with detailed examples: throughout the last century, a powerful minority has used myths about "crime" to increase the size and power of police and prison bureaucracies. These systems aren't designed to promote "safety," but to enforce inequality.…
Funding huge police bureaucracies is not just what enables those in power to do gentrification or to cage Black people at 6 times the rate of South Africa during Apartheid. It will enable fascists to massively surveil and punish consensual sex acts, contraception, abortion, etc.
Read 9 tweets
May 2
THREAD. Today the New York Times published a story about a cop in Philadelphia who is charged with murdering a 12-year-old boy by shooting him in the back. Incredibly, the article simply repeats the police story of why the cop shot the child.…
To get us started, take a look at the sources in the NYT's breaking news story:

-"the authorities"
-"spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department"
-"police commissioner"
-"the authorities"

That's it.
While the NYT simply chooses to repeat the police account in its breaking news piece, even a little basic reporting beyond printing police press releases would have revealed that the boy's family challenges the story told by the cops. This isn't mentioned:…
Read 11 tweets
Apr 29
Thread. Officials in New York have announced a "blue ribbon panel" to crack down on "fare evasion" in the NYC Subway. Several aspects of this story are genuinely shocking.…
First, government bureaucrats want us to know: "fare evasion is about more than the money." Look at this quote from an actual person with power: Poor people riding for free on public transit is a "threat to the spirit" of a "sacred" place.
I want to be clear: in only a profoundly lost elite culture could a government official assert that poor people riding *public transift* for free is a "threat to the spirit" of public transit.
Read 8 tweets
Apr 28
I'm having a hard time getting over the NYT story about the police execution of Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head. NYT literally talks about how the cop had helped "widows" and "orphans" and contains a wedding photo of the cop surrounded by African children. ImageImage
This is part of a pattern. The Associated Press opened the first paragraph of its article by describing the officer as a star pole vaulter and noting that he got married while on a missionary trip to Africa. Image
Setting aside this cartoonish example, I've written about how police want the news to tell the story of police violence as one of good cops, bad apples, and individualistic narrative. This deflects attention from how the systems are designed to be violent.…
Read 6 tweets
Apr 26
THREAD. I noticed something fascinating when comparing two recent New York Times articles. What I found helps explain the paper's central role in our society's profound inability to address the urgent problems of our time. I try to explain briefly below.
Yesterday, NYT published *yet another* article about a"crisis" of "crime," this time on public transit. It's another in a deluge of such pieces in NYT and pervading every major news outlet for the last 18 months. They wants us to think: crime is a crisis!…
First, a few notes about article. Take a look at the maneuver NYT uses: It uses an incendiary, emotional example of a woman witnessing a crime on Chicago transit to open the piece and scare people. (Later, we learn that reported crime on Chicago transit is down 50% pre-pandemic.)
Read 19 tweets

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