the underside of a powerful police portal in the United States

Saturday September 12, a sordid news item dominates the news in the United States. In Compton, near Los Angeles, a man shot point blank at two police officers before fleeing. This attack, unexplained, outrageous: most ten most viral posts on Facebook in the country are devoted to it. They all come from conservative sites or media.

One such site is The Police Tribune. This is the new name of a portal that was previously called Blue Lives Matter: the name of a movement that became known in 2016, initiated by American police officers in reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests denouncing the brutalities policewomen.

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Since then, Blue Lives Matter supporters have also regularly expressed outrage at their perceived unfavorable treatment of police action in the media and have sought to spread other positive stories about US police action.

Over 2 million subscribers

The Police Tribune explains that it was “Founded and is fully managed by members of the police, active or retired”. He introduces himself on Twitter like the voice “Official of the Blue Lives Matter movement” and has a certified account on this network: a blue logo indicating that the Twitter teams have verified the identity of its owners.

The site is powerful. On Facebook, he distributes numerous articles every day to his more than 2 million subscribers in which police officers are victims of other American citizens. Some of his posts, such as a misleading article on the death of an African American man shot by a police officer, are shared more than 100,000 times on Facebook. In the month of August, The Police Tribune had racked up over 1.3 million reactions, likes and shares – twice as many as the ever popular conservative polemicist Bill O’Reilly’s page.

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The articles on the site regularly denounce the supposed laxity of judges who release delinquents, or the racism of leftist demonstrators, when it does not echo the stories, sometimes unverified, of police officers that restaurateurs have refused. to serve. More broadly, the site focuses on anything that confirms the idea, popular among supporters of Donald Trump, that America is threatened by a far left that hates the police, ready to give criminals free rein.

A Facebook post from the Blue Lives Matter page, posted on January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president.  “The current dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is a bad thing, and the Trump administration will put an end to it,” the image caption read - which by then garnered more than 13,000 backing reactions.

But The Police Tribune is not only one of the most powerful activist sites on American social networks in 2020. It is also and above all a business. The site is owned by a clothing company, Warrior 12, which sells t-shirts that are “patriotic” or bearing conservative messages, references to Sparta or the Crusades. Warrior 12 is advertised as a “sponsor” of The Police Tribune, all of whose advertisements link to the clothing brand.

According to our information, the company Warrior 12 is itself a subsidiary of a very discreet holding, Tea Kay Media LLC, registered in the tax haven of Delaware. The identity of its owners is protected by the permissive laws of that state.

Message posted on Twitter urging to buy Warrior 12 t-shirts to support law enforcement.

The company is not only interested in American law enforcement. It also manages a page dedicated to firefighters (20,000 subscribers), which also serves as a promotional vehicle for its T-shirts. It also has a whole network of pages that seem to be solely dedicated to promoting The Police Tribune. and Warrior 12 t-shirts: the Liberty or Death “patriot” Facebook page (150,000 subscribers); a Facebook page dedicated to firearms (160,000 subscribers); a page dedicated to patriots wanting “Denounce the behavior of the liberals” : Exposing Liberals (260,000 subscribers); and Always Back the Blue (300,000 subscribers).

Partnership “

Political operation, commercial operation, both? Warrior 12 did not respond to requests from World on the subject. When asked about this, Christopher Berg, the editor of The Police Tribune, said it was a ” partnership “, according to which “Warrior 12 pays the operating costs of The Police Tribune ”. A ” partnership “ made essential, according to him, by “The actions of anti-police activists who continue to put pressure on our advertisers”.

Examples of Warrior 12 t-shirts: on the left, the message implies that the Clintons had the millionaire accused of raping minors Jeffrey Epstein murdered;  right, a t-shirt accusing athletes who kneel during the national anthem of not being

Statements that come in a context where The Police Tribune has experienced some recent setbacks. In June, Maven, an American media company in Seattle which notably owns the magazine Sports illustrated and which hosted a copy of the site on its information portal, ended their partnership, after a sling of employees unhappy to see unmoderated racist comments. The two main hosts of The Police Tribune, Mr. Berg, an ex-policeman very discreet about his past, and a journalist who made himself known by organizing weddings for a reality show, then renamed the site, abandoning the name of Blue Lives Matter.

For The Police Tribune, Warrior 12 is more than just a partner. The clothing seller is listed as the owner of The Police Tribune on the media’s own site, and its parent company owns up to the Blue Lives Matter brand. Warrior 12 was also in the process of organizing Back the Blue 5K, 5-kilometer charity races for law enforcement, which took place in several cities across the United States. The company claims to donate part of its profits to charities for the police, but does not detail which, or for what amount.

A very mobilizing subject

So many activities that take place in a context where police violence is one of the main subjects of the current presidential campaign in the United States – on both sides of the political spectrum. But long before the protests of recent months, fueled by the death of George Floyd and also regularly denounced by Donald Trump, the question was already particularly erupting for voters.

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In 2016, one of the most successful operations of the Russian influence campaign on social media concerned the police issue. False accounts, fed by Russian agents, had managed to collect more than 110,000 likes for a supposed movement “back the badge” (“support the police”) … which had never existed.


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