A Screenshot of one threatening email messages sent to Officer-Involved Domestic Violence (OIDV)advocate at the Behind The Blue Wall blog.
Harassing and sending threatening messages to police accountability activists and people who report on police misconduct is a favorite pastime for police officers. Often unpunished and ignored by mainstream media, officers often feel as though it is their right to silence any critics... and most people tend to agree by telling advocates that they should simply expect to be threatened for talking about police misconduct and accept it.
This past year several sites devoted to uncovering issues of police misconduct have gone silent, including the well-known BadCopNews.com which compiled several cases of misconduct from around the world on a daily basis for years. While bloggers who write about political misdeeds or other issues enjoy protections from such abusive and threatening behavior, police misconduct bloggers have to suffer it and prepare as best they can for the eventuality when officers might make good on their threats.
Sadly, just last week another advocate against police misconduct has been added to the list of citizen reporters who have suffered such abuse and has learned that police departments always refuse to investigate threats issued by their own officers made against citizen reporters.
On December 14, the writer of Behind The Blue Wall started receiving harassing messages that she claims to have tracked down to a Palm Beach Sheriff's Deputy that she had posted some news articles about. The officer in question, Deputy Ira Peskowitz, has apparently been in the news quite often due to allegations ranging from domestic violence to alleged threats made to fellow officers.
She claims the officer, apparently upset that those articles had been republished on a her blog, created a fake Myspace page so he could initiate contact with the blogger via her Myspace presence and then escalated to emails that culminated with this message:
"When I find you and I will, your going to understand what it's like to be a fish out of water. God help you and your family. I tracked your IP address and I'm coming for you ...... you don't know when to stop and when you do it will be too late for you to start ever again."The author apparently traced the messages back to officer Peskowitz and attempted to file complaints against the officer with the Palm Beach Sheriff's office to no avail. She also, fearing for her and her family's lives, contacted her local police department and was only told to call back if the officer was actually "banging on her door".
Fearing the officer would make good on his threats, and seeming to have good reason to do so as other officers who claimed to be threatened by him had resorted to filing restraining orders against him, went public with the threats in hopes that would cause the officer to think twice about making good on the threats.
Fellow bloggers, many of whom have also faced threats from police officers in response to their reporting, have offered their support and reposted information about the threats, including the author of the Riverside California blog Five Before Midnight, who has also had to suffer threats by police, as well as the Michigan OIDV Advocacy group who created a site devoted to the threats made so far.
Just as victims of police misconduct are often treated like third-class citizens, subjected to arrests made just to cover up for misconduct and ridiculed publicly by police officers and city officials, so too do the advocates for those victims become relegated to third-class citizen status and find themselves no longer protected by the same rights others enjoy.
In the end, all we can do as advocates against police misconduct is stand by each other and hope that, by shining a light on such misconduct as this, officers may think twice about making good on their threats of violence and the misuse of their authority to punish people who merely speak out against misconduct.
We too stand with the author of Behind The Blue Wall and offer what support we can in the hope that it might be enough to disuade further abusive retaliation against her for simply advocating for the victims of officer-related domestic violence.