Tanya Faison, a self-described “abolitionist” with Black Lives Matter Sacramento in California’s state capital, has been the repeated target of attacks on a Facebook page purported to be the “unofficial voice to the hardworking men and women of the Sacramento Police Department.”
“I’ve had to clean out the list of followers and block people because of this and a lot of them don’t air their names. They’re just very supportive of law enforcement and they’re just adding me, basically as some kind tactic, of intimidation or something,” Faison told Fox 40.
Faison said people looking to harass her have been led to her personal page as well as that of BLM Sacramento via the SPD Underground page on Facebook.
The page looks and sounds as if it is run by people directly connected to the Sacramento Police Department, and according to Fox 40, spokesmen for the department, the police union and the city all say that because the page has an anonymous administrator, it’s hard to tell who is behind it.
It might be easy to dismiss Faison’s claims, except that the gripes on the page are not limited to disparaging Faison and the Black Lives Matter movement. A June 9 post attacks Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, all but calling him a liar, and referencing his attendance at a recent police roll call, something that would not be known by outsiders.
The page also references contract negotiations between the police force and the city, complaining about statements the chief has made, and accusing the city of going on a spending spree as it drags its feet in the negotiations.
If someone were creating a page to impersonate the Police Department, he or she sure went to a lot of effort to make it look authentic—almost too much effort.
Assistant City Manager Arturo Sanchez told both Faison and Fox 40 that “the SPD Underground site is in no way associated with the city of Sacramento and the city manager’s office. Any claim that it is is a false one.”
Sanchez also said that because the posts are anonymous, there is no way to enforce the city’s social media policy.
If only there were a way for the city manager or the Police Department to reach out to Facebook and have the page suspended as easily as trolls have had pages belonging to activists suspended for telling the truth.