A campaign started by an Occupy Boston-affiliated group called Clean Up BPPA, along with some help from reporters at the Boston Phoenix, has turned up dirt related to the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA), the police officer’s union that came under fire earlier this month for offensive commentary in its newsletter, the Pax Centurion.
Clean Up BPPA, which has collected information about the BPPA on its blog and Twitter, describes itself as “a campaign to end advertising support of the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association newsletter, Pax Centurion, until the content is cleaned up.”
Some of the groups that have declared their intentions to stop advertising in the newsletter, including Harpoon Brewery and Simmons College, note that they intend to continue supporting the Police Scholarship fund. However, Clean Up BPPA has found records indicating that only a small percentage (13%, or $44,000) of the money donated to this fund between 2009-10 actually contributed to scholarships. A significantly higher proportion of it went to golf outings and retirement parties instead: the Phoenix reported that over $100,000 was spent on this between 2008-10 alone.
Clean Up BPPA has also investigated public records of the BPPA to learn more about its often suspicious financial activities. The group posted tax returns online that suggest commissions of up to 89% being paid to a local production company, Commonwealth Productions, for fundraising and soliciting ads. Clean Up BPPA found that the manager of the company, Lisa Hutchinson, has a history of criminal activity including fraudulent solicitation of funds and connections to a heroin ring that was broken up in 2009.
Evidence of the BPPA’s financial mismanagement follows an outcry in early July about offensive content in the union newsletter. The critique focused largely on James Carnell, the editor of the Pax Centurion and author of many racist, sexist, and anti-Occupy pieces for the newsletter. In response to criticism from police commissioner Ed Davis, Mayor Thomas Menino, police officers of color, and many other community members, the Patrolmen’s Association released a statement on its website decrying the “ scurrilous attacks” on James Carnell’s “right to express his personal views.”
However, Clean Up BPPA has found evidence that Carnell’s “personal views” have also affected his work as an officer. The campaign posted videos on its blog of a Boston police officer harassing and mocking Occupy protesters along with evidence that this officer is James Carnell.
In response, one Occupier wrote on her blog, “the re-emergence of this video has reminded a bunch of us that we need to file a complaint.”
Check out Clean Up BPPA’s website for more information and original research.