The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) labor union is facing online backlash for tweeting images that appear to imply Black perpetrators are victimizing transit lines passengers.
The group, which represents over 9,000 sworn police officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), posted a tweet on Friday to make the case that “defunding law enforcement” at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was harming public safety.
The tweet, which has since been deleted, read:
Listen to your riders! They keep telling you that if the trains, buses and stations are unsafe they will not ride. Defunding law enforcement at MTA was a big mistake in 2021. It’s critical to increase safety now to keep riders safe on our transit lines.
The tweet also reportedly featured photos that seemingly portrayed Asian men and lone young women as vulnerable riders and Black people as aggressors in transit crimes.
Twitter users called out the tweet for several misrepresentations, including the use of inaccurate images as well as the claim that the MTA was successfully defunded.
As Streetsblog L.A.’s Sahra Sulaiman pointed out, the MTA had done the opposite by dropping its single-agency contract with the Sheriff’s Department (LASD) in 2017 and instead awarding a five-year multi-agency policing contract to LAPD, LASD and the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). The multi-agency policing contract, which will run through the end of June, resulted in an additional $110 million in funding.
Narrator: Law enforcement was in fact *not* defunded on Metro in 2021; instead Metro extended the policing contract while also approving an additional ~$110mil to cover transit policing cost overruns. https://t.co/lM39UioeUQ
— sahra (@sahrasulaiman) February 25, 2023
The original tweet was also mocked for featuring an image of Union Pacific tracks, which are not under Metro’s scope.
also not the la metro lol pic.twitter.com/o5ruakpJJq
— Riley Choe (@rileychoe1) February 25, 2023
Kenny Uong, a known transit enthusiast in L.A., expressed his dismay after seeing an image of himself talking to a tourist who needed help navigating the system as the post made it appear that a Black man was harassing him.
Interesting how they used that pic from the 2021 LA Times article about me to depict rise of crime on transit… 🤔 In that pic, I was talking to a rider who had trouble navigating the LA Metro system! https://t.co/nZkmqAUMLv pic.twitter.com/jFt6h5tx7a
— Kenny Uong (@_KennyUong_) February 25, 2023
Meanwhile, Asiyahola Sankara, the former Organizing and Outreach Program manager for Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles (ACT-LA), called out the misuse of an image showing commuters Scarlett De León and Terue Williams, the latter of whom she noted was shot by police.
Absolutely unhinged post for a lot of reasons including bc the guy in the top left photo is Terue Williams, who was shot by an LAPD officer and survived https://t.co/B7B668AGm3 pic.twitter.com/qjDW9u6XNK
— Asiyahola Sankara (@asiyahola_s) February 25, 2023
Following the immediate backlash, LAPPL deleted the original tweet before posting a screenshot of it shortly afterward with an apology.
The LAPD officer’s union deletes, reposts and then apologizes for this tweet taking LA Times photos out of context to advocate for more police on metro.
“We apologize for any misunderstanding.” https://t.co/eae7NRcRBn pic.twitter.com/RCsYBJ7Nkf
— Kate Cagle (@KateCagle) February 27, 2023
The screenshot included the same images but with the original source captions. The group also posted a tweet that offered an apology for the “misunderstanding.”
However, both tweets were reportedly deleted within the next two hours.