Two police accountability groups posted messages on social media this week encouraging Americans to shoot at police officers for “trespassing.”
Police The Police and Cop Block both posted the same Facebook message, which linked to a story about Robert Lasso, a Pennsylvania police officer who was fatally shot while responding to a domestic disturbance.
“We always hate to see a loss of life regardless of who, but the more people defend themselves and their property like this the less these costumed thugs will think its okay to trespass on a person property without a warrant,” the message said.
The gunman, George Hitcho Jr, admitted to shooting Lasso in the back of the head with a shotgun. According to court documents, Lasso had point a stun gun at two dogs who were attacking him. Hitcho claimed the police officer did not have a right to be on his property without a warrant.
Lasso was called to Hitcho’s home after a neighbor told 911 dispatchers that Hitcho had threatened him with a 2-by-4 plank.
Hitcho’s friends testified that Lasso had asked Hitcho to come out of his home to talk and to control his dogs before Hitcho fired a shotgun through a window at the officer as his back was turned.
A jury deliberated about two and a half hours before deciding Hitcho should be put to death for first-degree murder.
Police The Police and Cop Block both use Twitter and Facebook to highlight cases of police brutality and misconduct, but also frequently post anti-police images and memes. An admin of the Cop Block Facebook page complained in May that the social media site blocked an image comparing U.S. officers to Hitler, a meme he found on Police the Police.
The Cleveland Scene described Cop Block — the larger and older of the two groups — as a “sect of self-appointed watchdogs, citizen vigilantes, actively searching out cop abuse on camera (and provoking it, at times) and spreading their findings through social media.”
But police aren’t their only concern. Cop Block often uses its large social media following to support expanded gun rights, and promote “open carry” gun rallies in Texas and other states. An article published on the group’s website in 2013 complained that gun control “never refers to restriction of the violent, psychotic, cowardly police who patrol American streets constantly armed to the teeth.”
Last week, Cop Block emphasized that the group does not support initiating or threatening violence against police after the fatal shooting of two New York City officers.
Cop Block claimed it was the victim of various media hit pieces: “If they had the slightest bit of proof against Cop Block then they would have presented it. But instead of presenting evidence against us, they have presented comments from trolls and tried to blame us for them. We have, at every turn, denounced revenge, violence, and even disassociated from individuals who seemed to celebrate misfortunes of others.”
The group insisted it believed in the non-aggression principle, a moral principle closely associated with the libertarian thinker Ayn Rand.
But in 2011, the group posted an article on its website claiming that it was not wrong to kill police officers who tried to enforce laws they deemed to be unconstitutional. The group later posted a narrated version of the article to YouTube.
“If you have the unalienable right to be armed, then you have the right to KILL ‘government’ agents who try to disarm you,” the post stated. “The next time you hear of a police officer being killed ‘in the line of duty,’ take a moment to consider the very real possibility that maybe in that case, the ‘law enforcer’ was the bad guy and the ‘cop killer’ was the good guy.”