It appears Facebook has drawn a line in the sand, and decided to stand on the wrong side of it.
We already knew it is perfectly acceptable for “civil rights” groups (read: Social Justice Terrorists) like ANTIFA and BLM to promote content encouraging a war on police… but if you promote content that highlights the positive stories of police officers, or offers support to these heroes on the front line, your account will be shut down. Even if it’s a closed group, and now, even if you painstakingly do everything you can to self regulate your group to follow each and every one of Facebook’s community standards. Sergeant Craig Polen recently learned this when he discovered his closed Facebook group of verified police officers, LEO Only, had been suspended for allegedly violating the site’s community standards. Which standards?
He doesn’t know.
Sgt. Polen hasn’t been running a controversial group. It doesn’t so much as flirt with the lines of polite conversation, and takes great care in staying out of politics and focused on their core mission – offering peer to peer support for law enforcement officers who, all too often, struggle to find a welcoming and appropriate place to share their experiences, struggles, strength and hope on the job, day in and day out. “I have five moderators,” he told me during a phone conversation, “black, white, female…so that where I may not be able to recognize comments and content that may be racist, sexist or otherwise objectionable, they can.” In their own words:
“LEO Only was established in 2013 by Craig Polen, with the intention of giving fellow officers a place where they would feel comfortable talking and expressing their feelings concerning their experiences, good and bad, as law enforcement officers. Sometimes, talking about your day at work with non LEOs is not only uncomfortable, but perhaps not appropriate. On this site communication is encouraged and there are thousands of other officers who are willing and eager to listen and perhaps even give advice should it be asked for, twenty four hours of every day.”
This is a closed group, screened carefully to ensure that only verified law enforcement are members. Their main mission is to offer support and prevent officer suicide. The message is so powerful, so meaningful, and so needed. These are the men and women who put their own lives on the line to support and protect our communities, sometimes paying the ultimate price. They are increasingly the subject of egregious contempt, disdain, hate and threats, yet are the first people we call when its our own well being is at stake. And Sgt. Polen’s message is so sincere, so heartfelt and so compelling. It is beyond egregious for it to be simply wiped out at the whim of Facebook’s AI algorithms.
And what’s more, is that from this group, another even more meaningful purpose was born:
“Sgt Polen also had a vision of seeing that young children of brothers and sisters who had fallen victim to the ravages of the job and perhaps been injured or made the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow man, would never have to awaken on a Christmas morning without the joy of a visit from Santa because it wasn’t affordable to their remaining family. So with this thought in mind he put forth the idea to all of the members of LEO Only that we endeavor to provide Christmas shopping sprees to these kids. This was a large undertaking, but the LEO Only members embraced the idea wholeheartedly and soon ideas were pouring in from all corners on how to raise funds for this cause. Many things were tried. Some worked amazingly well while others were mediocre at best. But in the end enough money was raised to provide Christmas for 23 children in our first year of operation. As our numbers have rapidly grown and more and more members embrace this cause, the level of participation has also grown greatly and even more ideas have emerged and more money has been raised. We reached the point where we felt that we needed to establish ourselves as a non-profit organization with all of the perks and the problems that come with that status. We are now at the point where we are planning to do at least 50 shopping sprees this calendar year and we have begun the discussions toward establishing college scholarships for some children that need that type of help.”
LEO Only is a LEO Only is a 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization. This a legitimate, by-the-books organization doing God’s work for our law enforcement and children, for fuck’s sake. And they were taken down, for no reason at all. No explanation given. With an ongoing fundraising running to give Christmas to the families of fallen officers, and a ticketed event right around the corner, an abrupt Facebook shutdown could spell catastrophe. If social media was designed to connect us, why is LEO Only currently suspended?
“I just want to know what standard we broke,” Polen lamented, “So we can fix it.”
It isn’t up to these men and women to fix this – they did nothing wrong. It’s up to Facebook to fix, and it’s now up to us to keep their message going by sharing, donating and showing them without a doubt – we love and support our Police Officers and their families. We are grateful for every sacrifice, great and small, that they make in service to our communities.
With everything they’re doing, for us and each other, it’s the least we can do in return.
If you’d like to support Police Officers everywhere and the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as countless other public outreach fundraisers currently running, you can visit the LEO Only website to donate to their cause here.
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