At its height of popularity, the Scranton Police Department public Facebook group was packed with over 15,000 ardent supporters of the local police. Most members of the online group were local to Scranton, Pennsylvania, or had lived in the area at some point in their lives. The group was founded in early 2012 by Allie Massey, a Scranton resident, who cheerfully administrated the bustling online community.
If you scroll through the content of the page you can view a myriad of Blue Lives Matter Flags, memes calling for prayers and safety of the police, notices of missing people reports and lost pets. You’ll also view a smattering of racist, sexist and anti-Obama content.
By 2017, it appears that Allie became active in local politics. She endorsed Republican candidate Jim Mulligan for Mayor of Scranton within the
SPD Facebook group. Jim Mulligan was an establishment candidate during a time when the SPD Facebook group was surging with a populist Trump rhetoric. An establishment candidate was not popular to the SPD members, and a rift in the group began to develop. By November 7, 2017, Allie posted her final post to the group, which stated:
“After posting my opinion as this fan page’s moderator that people should endorse Jim Mulligan, I was cursed at; I had my pictures (apparently?) uploaded to a prostitute-for-hire Web site; I was bombarded with insults; and I had a literal squadron of bullies message me, tag me, make fun of me, and laughably, then complain about “being blocked.” I can’t think of ANY more convincing reason to vote for Jim Mulligan for Mayor today. Scranton deserves better.”
Allie has not commented nor interacted in the group since this post. Great Lakes AntiFa reached out to Ms. Massey and requested a comment for this piece. To date, Ms. Massey has not responded.
By May 2018, word had spread throughout activist communities that there was a large pro-police Facebook community that was completely abandoned by the moderators. The SPD group is in fact a public group with limited permissions; anyone can request to join and any member can approve new members. Activists began requesting membership, and were quickly added to the group. Within days the SPD group filled with over 450 activists from police reform groups, prison reform and abolition activists, and radical activists from AntiFa, RASH, SHARP, Juggalos and Anonymous sects such as TrollSec and ClownSec. They “trolled” the members with anti-police memes, false claims that they were now admins, and countless posts critical to police for shooting family pets.
Original members of the group predictably were upset, and immediately began posting and asking for moderators or administrators to intercede and ban the wave of trolls. Over 2,000 members left the group within the first days of the onslaught.
Activists celebrated the occupation within the group, and continued to troll members, post memes and make jokes in the comment threads. One activist masquerading as an “admin” even requested original members’ addresses for vetting purposes. Dozens of members complied.
Several of the original members of the SPD Facebook group attempted to start new groups under similar names. Nearly all have been infiltrated, trolled and occupied in a similar fashion.