‘Just wait for the purge’: Cambridge police union edits, apologizes for post on Senate police reform bill

“We apologize that the two sentences in the original post have been chosen to be interpreted as violent or hateful."

–Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff, file

The union representing Cambridge police patrolmen removed part of a Facebook post that threatened a “purge,” and then apologized, noting that the post did not refer to violence, and that it “has been misconstrued as such.”

The post, originally published last Wednesday, included the line “If you think 7 civilians killed in 7 days in Boston is bad, just wait for the purge that will come.” The phrase was edited out two days later, but reappeared on social media since some users screencapped it. It was reposted by the ACLU Massachusetts, among others, and is also still viewable in the post’s edit history.

A portion of the original post before it was edited. —Facebook screenshot
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The post was a call to action against state Senate bill. S.2800, also known as the “Reform, Shift + Build Act,” which takes a critical look at police reform and includes things like having police use de-escalation methods, making police more accountable, and looking to limit the use of force; it would also establish a certification process for police across the state. The bill also creates a new Commission on the Status of African Americans, as explained on state Sen. Jo Comerford’s website.

The senate passed the bill Tuesday morning. It is now headed to the House for consideration.

In its apology, the Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Association says none of its members wrote the post, and said that the “purge” referred to what the union fears will happen if its department’s funding is cut, not a a call for violence.

It was apparently not intentionally intended to be a reference to the “Purge” movies and television series, which take place in a dystopian future where crime, including violent murder, is legal for one day a year.

“We apologize that the two sentences in the original post have been chosen to be interpreted as violent or hateful,” the apology, posted on Saturday, says. “We feel that members of our Association and our colleagues have built great relationships with our communities and the last task on our mind would be to drive a wedge between the police force and the community.”

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The ACLU condemned the original post on Twitter.

“This is the kind of violent and threatening language that police are using to try and destroy the bill being debated before [the state Senate],” the organization said along with a screenshot of the post. “Cops are bullying our legislators because they want the authority to continue to oppress people in the streets.”

Cambridge City Councilor Mark McGovern called the post “outrageous” in a reply to a tweet containing a screenshot of the post.

Fellow Councilor Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler also spoke out against the post.

“In Cambridge, we’ve heard a few people say that we don’t have to talk about reallocating any funds from policing or structural change because we’re already progressive & different than other cities,” he said on Twitter. “This a good reminder that we’re unfortunately not that different.”

 

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