back to article US border cops' secret racist Facebook group a total disgrace, says patrol chief. She should know, she was a member

When it emerged that border patrol agents were posting racist, sexist and abusive content on a secret Facebook group, the chief of the agency did the right thing and condemned the behavior. In a statement this week, Carla Provost – the first woman appointed to the post – said: "These posts are completely inappropriate and …

  1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Facebook is a disease

    Sooner I can get away from it the better. Currently relying on it for work.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Facebook is a disease

      Yes much better on the good old days when racist cops just dressed up in white bed sheets and burnt crosses.

      Although the laundry bleach makers were probably to blame for that ....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Facebook is a disease

        No. But if a house is on fire, we can argue "it's not the houses fault"... still, may want to get out before it gets toasty.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook is a disease

      Get a different job

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Facebook is a disease

        Racism is the disease. These people were violent bigots before they joined the Facebook group. It's not the medium that's the problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Facebook is a disease

          This is not about racism.

          It's about people who deal with scum everyday letting off some steam, many of them Mexican Ex-Pats.

          Funny they rarely mention that huh, so yeah right.

          Same thing happens with Police Officers after hours.

          YOU try and deal with the "fun" with the masses these days... you're either a citizen or a perp.

          But phlease do go on saying that illegals aren't breaking the law, just shows your ignorance.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Facebook is a disease

            You are right in so far as people with stressful jobs need a way to defuse (and diffuse) the stress, and occasional horror. One way of doing this is through shared humour - I know from my time as a nurse on acute and secure psychiatric wards that the humour can be grim, and tasteless to those who do not share the milieu. I think I have seen a study which correlates the rise of "you can't say that" with increased stress-related illness, but I can't find it now (so count it as anecdote). However, my experience does not cover all that is going on here (there were no people I worked with who hated people with mental health problems, for example). There seem to be too many people in "law enforcement" who are in it for the power and the chance to inflict pain and suffering on "perps" (an awful term that should lead to vilification by those using it). DHS seems to have more than its fair share of bigots, racists, misogynist, misandrists, and just plain terrible human beings. My sympathy is always going to be with those on the receiving end of actions by this group of people, because malice is always more likely than not. The DHS needs disbanding, though what you'd do with a bunch of unemployed thugs, I don't know.

      2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

        Re: Facebook is a disease

        "Get a different job"

        I work for myself, troll.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Facebook is a disease

          I am also self-employed. I see no need for facebook. Perhaps you should re-imagine your working conditions? No need to torture yourself.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Facebook is a disease

          I work for myself, troll.

          And when may we expect the sequel to Fly-fishing please good Sir?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Facebook is a disease

          Then you have no excuse, this troll might have an oz of sympathy if you pulled the short straw and had to man (sorry pronouns mammal I meant) the social media accounts. Being self employed and subjecting yourself to that is arse backwards

          I am also self employed not being on social media is part of my filtering process to avoid idiots, make them work to reach you they tend to know what they want and don't waste my time and generally pay on time too, the social media experiment I did a few years back led to lots of interest, lots of discussions and bugger all income for time invested

    3. Stuart Halliday
      Facepalm

      Re: Facebook is a disease

      It's not Facebook's fault. It's people. Pure and simple.

      Groups of like-minded people will always find a way to get together.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Facebook is a disease

        It's not Facebook's fault. It's people. Pure and simple.

        Groups of like-minded people will always find a way to get together.

        And FB is a very good way to get the dumbest and vilest to "out" themselves. Let FB keep going, it's a great trap for idiots.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fun times we are in

    Can't wait for the thoughtful discussion about this topic. Sigh.

    1. Keven E

      Re: Fun times we are in

      "...several of those have been placed on administrative duties pending the results of the investigation."

      There are only so many "administrative duties" to go around... I wonder how many of them include trolling facebook for illegal activities...

  3. jake Silver badge

    This surprises who, exactly?

    It's not like that line of work as currently presented attracts sane, rational human beings.

    Clearly the department needs to be disbanded, and the entire concept re-examined. I suspect the various State's (volunteer) National Guard would do a good job of filling in for the duration.

    Start with keeping the DHS out of it ... that clusterfuck is Security Theater at it's worst.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: This surprises who, exactly?

      I find the same type of people are in TSA. A bunch of wanabees who couldn't be a real cop but want the power trip. Let's face it, they get badges, guns, and authority over people. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: This surprises who, exactly?

        Border Patrol *are* real cops. Which is why they can't meet their hiring quotas in border areas, those that want the job can't meet the federal law enforcement officer minimum requirements. Qualified candidates are more likely to join a group that doesn't require spending most of your time sitting in a hot (or cold) desert looking for people just trying to feed their families, and then lock them up.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: This surprises who, exactly?

          Are they? Often wondered about that, when I see 'police, ICE' jackets and stuff... over here in blighty the border freaks are definitely NOT the police and can go do one.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: This surprises who, exactly?

        It seems that Hollywood and the TV people are partly to blame. They portray military, LEO and Feds as "cool cowboy" types with lost of slang in their speech etc. and so many have grown up with that, they think it;s real. And it has become real.

        I know in many cases it's a tough job, and people need to let of steam after some days or incidents, but it does seem to be "college kids" type of cooling off and a lot of herd mentality.

        I'm probably not being as clear as I want to be here. OK, so I was watching a programme the other week, one of the more serious UFO investigation type shows. Much of it was investigating what pilots have seen. Almost without fail, every cockpit recording of pilots was people sounding cool, calm, professional, in control as they described unusual sightings, EXCEPT for the US military (not civilian) pilots who almost without fail, were making comments like "whoa dude", "wow maaan", "that's gnarly" etc. Supposedly highly trained, profession pilots coming across like teenage surfer dudes. Not at all like the cockpit recording of Neil Armstrong during the moon landing under extreme stress :-)

        I'm sure this isn't unique to USAians, and it's not all of them, and maybe part of it is the English speaking world at least is swamped with US TV, which strongly colours what we see and think about them.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: This surprises who, exactly?

          Indeed, amongst the criminal classes here in the UK, the nickname for the coppers/fuzz//old bill/peelers etc. is now 'the feds'. Which makes zero sense and makes the person saying it sound like an idiot.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: This surprises who, exactly?

          It seems that Hollywood and the TV people are partly to blame. They portray military, LEO and Feds as "cool cowboy" types with lost of slang in their speech etc. and so many have grown up with that, they think it;s real. And it has become real.

          Stone did the same thing with Gordon Gekko. He'd intended him to come across and an asshat and as a condemnation of his behavior; instead he created a template that pretty well every trader has wanted to follow ever since. Literally, the character defines what success looks like for that role.

          Be careful what you make seem cool, because you just might make it the default. My wife still thinks my working day looks more like the Wolf of Wall Street than Clerks. Either of which would be a genuine improvement!

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: This surprises who, exactly?

      The Army National Guard and the air force are prohibited from doing law enforcement roles. THe Marines and Navy are not .

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: This surprises who, exactly?

        Patrolling the boarder isn't law enforcement, it's defending the country.

        (Before answering this, please note that I am no fan of the Trump administration, nor of its policies. Ta.)

        1. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re: This surprises who, exactly?

          In the US making arrest is law enforcement.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are a group member, you get fed everything posted - seems like another Administration "sh$t storm"

  5. Palpy

    DHS: part of the ratchet effect?

    Ratchet effect meaning that it is relatively easy to empower the various apparatus of a police state, but quite hard to demolish those apparatus again. Personally, I don't see the demolition of DHS happening any time soon. It has become an apparatus of power, useful to those who want power.

    (The plural of apparatus is either apparatus or apparatuses; both look wrong to me.)

    Freedom of speech appears subject to contingencies. (No surprise there.) Yes, citizens in the US (and also in more advanced democracies) are "free" to speak their minds, no matter how shallow and polluted those minds are. Unless the speech reveals that they may be a danger to the other people they must deal with in their job. I mean, you don't want to hire a professor who talks about how easy it is to coerce students to have sex, or a fireman who posts designs for homemade incendiary devices, and so forth.

    And so, yes, free speech. But we should, nevertheless, take notice when policemen in Philadelphia and St. Louis make racist and misogynistic posts on FB, and ditto DHS officers.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: DHS: part of the ratchet effect?

      I'd go with apparatus, like sheep.

      The limitation of free speech is still cloudy. It's illegal to shout 'Fire!' into a crowded theatre, even if the theatre is on fire, but is it illegal to shout, "Please make your way to the nearest exit, while ignoring the smoke and flame"?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownian_ratchet#Why_it_fails

      1. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Fire in a crowded theater

        Just checking: Hands up those who know that (roughly) that phrase was used to justify prosecuting folks who spoke against the draft during WWI (AKA, Great War, Chapter 1).

        Wikipedia also notes that the common formulation omits some bits in the original "falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic", but why let facts get in the way of a good all-purpose excuse to silence your neighbor?

        Yeah, it's still not clear to me that saying something on the order of "this war thing may not turn out well, so what exactly is the benefit of letting oligarchs and royal-wannabees send everybody else out to die?" is an actual terrorist act, as it would be deemed today.

        Sort of how "Think of the Children" is used to justify mandating NOBUS encryption and mandating that you laptop gets infested with malware every time you cross a border.

      2. Palpy
        Thumb Up

        @Danny 2: DHS: part of the Brownian ratchet effect?!

        Thanks for that reffy. Dang it! Will we never break the chains of thermodynamics and achieve free energy?

        Um, I guess not. To quote XKCD, "Science, bitches. It works."

    2. Louis Schreurs

      Re: DHS: part of the ratchet effect?

      (The plural of apparatus is either apparatus or apparatuses; both look wrong to me.)

      Both seem right according to an internet source.

      apparatus

      Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

      ap·pa·rat·us (ăp′ə-răt′əs, -rā′təs)

      n. pl. apparatus or ap·pa·rat·us·es

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Provost

    That’s some nominative determinism right there

    1. RPF

      Re: Provost

      She just needs to marry someone called "Marshall" now.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Provost

        ...Carla Provost doesn't stay in her position for long.

        She should perform a swift take-off like a Jet to help restore confidence in the office.

  7. Dr Scrum Master

    Patrol?

    She doesn't look like she's done much patrolling recently, at least not any that requires walking...

    1. Louis Schreurs

      Re: Patrol?

      To me her measurements are nominal murrican.

      1. Blake St. Claire

        Re: Patrol?

        > To me her measurements are nominal murrican.

        I remember you now. You were that lard-assed brit in the seat next to me flying back from BLR on BA.

        You were so big you couldn't eat your meal without constantly elbowing me in the ribs.

        And you had the nerve to ask me if I could leave so you could eat.

        When there are no fat people left in Britain, then you can talk about the fatties in America. Until then, STFU.

        1. Tomato42 Silver badge

          Re: Patrol?

          ok, so as a non-Brit, let me repeat that: she looks like a nominal American

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Patrol?

          @BSC Are you blind? I go into a grocery store here in MAObeseA land, look around, and end up buying much *less* food than I intended, out of sheer disgust.

          I am _not_ nearly at an ideal weight as defined by sadistic dieticians, but I know I can haul my ass out of that store if there is a "leopard!" test. Far too many people can barely _walk_ from car to store.

      2. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Patrol?

        Using data from 1980 to 2013, in the UK 66.6% of men and 52.7% of women were found to be either overweight or obese. The figures for Malta were 74.0% of men and 57.8% of women and for Iceland were 73.6% of men and 60.9% of women respectively. The UK had the fifth highest rate of obesity in Europe in 2015.

        The UK is only less then half a percent behind the US

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Patrol?

          "and for Iceland were 73.6% of men and 60.9% of women"

          Store or country?

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Patrol?

          That's a meaningless statistic.

          Even assuming the same definition was used (which probably isn't the case), "Obese" covers everything from "somewhat overweight" to "the fire service have to destroy the wall to get you out of the bedroom".

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Patrol?

          "overweight or obese"

          don't forget that "obese" when used by medical people rarely means anywhere near as overweight as your average person would think. What your average person thinks is "obese" is what a medical person would call morbidly obese or even critically obese.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Patrol?

            Lots of well-fed, under exercised obese people is one thing.

            Lots of extreme cases is another, and this is the difference between USA and RotW. Those blob people who are impossibly big are a regular sight in the USA but rare elsewhere.

            Riding round on their electric fat carts. Any tourist vising Orlando cannot miss the swarms of them in the parks.

            But let us not forget that the USA also has a larger number of extremely fit people.

            It's just more outliers, more of a spread (so to speak).

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Patrol?

              "It's just more outliers, more of a spread (so to speak)."

              So, basically you are saying the USA is no longer a young country, it's officially middle-aged now?

              The Muumuu ----------->

        4. Moosh
          Boffin

          Re: Patrol?

          Aye, but what if we exclude Scotland from the UK statistics?

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Patrol?

            Get un ma belly.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are two types of police

    Bad ones. And those who cover for them.

    Yet another example.

  9. MNGrrrl
    Meh

    Walking a tight rope

    The people crapping on her need to take a step back and look at this from a leadership position. She never partook in those behaviors, and was not an active participant. She's condemned the behavior, and the only reason anyone knows about this is because of a breach of privacy. The sum total of what people have against her is that she was part of a Facebook group that all of her colleagues were in, but did nothing while in that group. Nothing.

    Good people can walk into shit situations, shit jobs, with shit culture. They've got two choices -- try to make it better and lead by example, do nothing, or punish people. Punishment won't go far when the problem is so entrenched; There's many, maaaany stories of people in law enforcement coming out against the actions of their colleagues and it usually ends badly for them. Stop looking at this like you're in the first world with your perfectly running law and order society; It's a corrupt institution and people are shitting on the one person who apparently /didn't/ participate for not doing more. In her position, anyone reading this would have melted into a puddle trying to do what you've got in your head to do, which is hero through fixing an entire organization with an entrenched culture, without any support from outside.

    And that last part is key: She doesn't have any support. Not from the public. Certainly not from the Executive branch. Not from Congress. No... just a few democrats who managed to swing one half of the legislative branch and they want to get some political currency out of this... by *also not helping*.

    Sorry. I'm a realist... and by all accounts this woman did what most people with a conscience would do: Worked quietly, kept an eye on things, and tried do what good could be done. Because it's lonely when you're at the top of an organization. And leaders who don't have their directions followed stop being leaders. Being in a position of authority is a constant balancing act between meeting internal organizational needs and advancing your own goals. She might not have done as much as she could, but let's be honest: She probably did more than any of the other candidates would have. Sometimes, "not enough" is the high bar guys. I think this is one of those cases.

    When I see that she's got enough funding and support to gut the entire org and rebuild it with an eye towards combating this culture, and politicians and the general public willing to accept that basically means major staffing shortages and a shit show for a couple *years* while the whole show reboots, I'll be more willing to pickup a pitchfork. But come on -- what kinda chance would she even have had? You've read the same news I have.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Walking a tight rope

      She was a member of the group, and posted in it.

      Are you trying to say that she never noticed any of the crap being posted there?

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: Walking a tight rope

        I don't think it's about not noticing, that post sounds - to me - like trying to justify Provost's lack of courage to act. There's no justification for a police chief not to act when confronted with wrongdoings from their subordinates. And if she believed she was unable to stop those acting unlawfully within her own force, she should resign. But it doesn't seem she even tried.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Walking a tight rope

          Yes, re-reading it, you're right.

          And I agree with the rest of your post too.

          Even an agent who sees that stuff should point it out, but for the boss to ignore what her staff are doing? It doesn't matter how hard her job is, by ignoring things like that, she's not doing it.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Walking a tight rope

      "The sum total of what people have against her is that she was part of a Facebook group that all of her colleagues were in, but did nothing while in that group. Nothing."

      It's her job and she failed to do it. Letting off steam is one thing, obvious and entrenched hatred and racism is something else. It's quite possible some of the comments, as reported, may be criminal acts in themselves. Freedom of speech only goes so far.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Walking a tight rope

        And if it was a bunch of office workers saying this, it would be bad, but these people saying these things are in a powerful trusted gun-wearing position over helpless individuals.

        Even the things that wouldn't be criminal otherwise would/should be in this case - or at least in need of further investigation.

        It's like someone said earlier, you wouldn't allow a teacher to make paedophile jokes, or a fireman posting how to start big fires etc..

  10. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Ignoring the hypocrite in the story, I say we start a pool. How about the date some congresscritter juxtaposes "private groups" on FB and the "dark web" with all the associated money laundering, human trafficking, gun and drug smuggling, etc. As an adder we can include the legislation they'll introduce to combat this problem and its overly-contrived name like the FACEBOOK Act - Freedom Against Cloaked Evil By Opening Online Klatches. Who's in?

  11. Nunyabiznes

    Stones

    I won't be throwing any because I've made off color remarks before.

    The difference is between what you joke about and what you do.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Stones

      There is a difference between making an off-colo(u)r remark and going out of your way to share said remark on Facebook, so as many people as possible can see your (t)wittery.

      1. Nunyabiznes

        Re: Stones

        Well, it was a "closed" group - the digital equivalent of a locker room.

        *Yes, Facebook I know, but the analogy stands.

        And that being said, in today's society where any and everything is probably recorded and will eventually become public one way or another, a person should probably think before keyboarding.

        I do find it interesting that so many people are piling on this group when shock "comedians" have said much the same or worse and gotten laughs and a pass.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Stones

          "Shock" comedians don't have lawful powers to use force against the people they are talking about. That is a very big difference.

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