Are Menacing Posts on Occupy Philly’s Facebook Page from a Philly Cop?
Someone going by the name of Mike Sidebotham—whose profile indicates he is a Philadelphia police officer—posted a menacing message to the Occupy Philadelphia facebook page Saturday evening.
He posted the notorious photo of Lt. John Pike, the University of California-Davis police officer filmed casually and cavalierly hosing protesters with pepper spray.
The photo was captioned, “Don’t mind me / Just watering my hippies.”
The post included a personal message: “5 o clock is coming.”
5 p.m. is the deadline Mayor Nutter has given Occupy Philly activists to clear their bodies and belongings out of Dilworth Plaza.
“Do you really feel like it’s a smart idea, as a Philadelphia police officer, to post things like this on publicly accessible Facebook pages?” asked Brooklyn Billmaier, in direct response to Sidebotham’s post.
“This just broke my heart to see this,” chimed in someone going by the handle Occupy a Shower. “Tasers get better reactions!!!”
A few minutes later Sidebotham wrote, “There [sic] just hating on my freedom of speech.”
Sidebotham, whose profile indicates that he graduated Archbishop Ryan High School in 2003, defended himself even further: “Its a picture what am I inciting? Whats it matter what my profession is? Did I do it? No. No where did I promote what happened, I just find the caption funny. People are trying to say because of my profession I cant disagree with what you guys are doing? I never laid a hand on a single one of you guys have i? Nope, so I am exercising my freedom of speech. I think I have earned the right to do so.”
A few minutes later the post disappeared.
Sidebotham didn’t bother, however, to delete his many previous to the Occupy Philadelphia facebook page. At least 10 such posts exist dating back to October.
It was November 2, though—the day nine Occupy Philly protesters were arrested demonstrating in front of the Comcast building—that seemed to launch Sidebotham into a trolling tailspin that includes comments suggestive of prison rape for the arrestees:
November 2, 4:22pm: “Free Nelson Mandela!”
4:32pm: A yearbook photo of a chubby white boy that says, “Man, those were some good tacos,” with the quote attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.
4:53pm: “Im about to go make some sloppy Joes anyone want some?”
9:13pm: A photo of a black man in an orange jumpsuit. He is scowling. Text on the photo reads: “The soap / pick it up.” Beneath the photo, a personal note: “for those who got arrested at comcasat, enjoy your stay”
Someone asked what was the reason for the photo.
“it makes me laugh,” responded Sidebotham.
10:04pm: A photo of what appears to be a Middle Eastern man in the desert. Militant-looking police stand behind him, donning clear shields. The photo, which includes the text “Everyday I’m shufflin’” was posted with a personal note: “occupy iraq?”
10:12pm: Photo of a line of uniformed cops spraying a man holding up a camera in the face with pepper spray or mace. The man is attempting to shield his eyes from the spray. Text on photo: “Go be fat somewhere else.”
11:33pm: A photo of Batman and a note that says “Batman is part of the 1%.”
November 3, 12:06am: A photo of Martin Luther King with two fingers pointing toward the lens. Text on the photo: “pew pew pew pew take that, racism”
November 3, 4:37pm: Photo of an obese man holding a can of Bud Light and a plastic gun. Text reads: “Shitter’s full”
November 5, 1:22pm: A photo of Gaddafi with text: “R.I.P. Carlos Santana 1947 – 2011.”
Sidebotham’s latest post to the Occupy Philly wall links to an insurance commercial.
So far, it is unclear if these posts are really from Sidebotham and if he is a Philadelphia police officer. A request for confirmation of employment is pending with the Philadelphia police department.
If this person is indeed an officer, he is in clear violation of the Philadelphia Police Department’s directive regarding use of social media.
From a memo in May: “At all times, [police should] conduct themselves as representatives of the department and, accordingly, adhere to all department policies and standards of conduct, and observe conventionally accepted protocols and proper decorum.”
Sidebotham, or the person manning the Facebook account, did not return PW’s requests for comment.