Smoking gun: How LEX18 fabricated a poll to help the Lexington Police Department’s sagging image

The Lexington Police Department has been besieged with misconduct allegations the past month. The biggest, of course, is the UK Five lawsuit, where a White LPD detective allegedly framed 5 Black UK Football players for felony burglary, allegedly fabricating evidence to charge them after frat-partygoers hurled racial slurs at them and physically assaulted them. On top of that, another LPD cop was caught with large quantities of drugs, including heroin and scales in his police cruiser. Rather than charging him with drug trafficking, Chief Weathers gave him a slap on the wrist.

Obviously, LPD needed a little PR boost. With all the local activists, many of whom are minorities, denouncing the rampant, unmitigated LPD misconduct, they decided to go with a Black reporter, LEX 18’s Christiana Ford, to do the story.

Ford’s selection for the story is part of a wider, disturbing nationwide trend where White Supremacists will use Black figures to push their racist agendas. Candace Owens is one such well known figure:

Starting from her lowly days on YouTube – posting poorly edited homemade videos to a non-existent following – Candace Owens has impressively climbed up the obscurity ladder to become one of the most well known African American female Trump supporters in the United States.

Owens attracted national attention with her disparagement of Black Lives Matter, describing them as “a bunch of whiny toddlers, pretending to be oppressed for attention.” She is also known to be an outspoken critic of the Democratic Party, who created a video entitled “How to Escape the Democrat Plantation” that now sits on YouTube with more than half a million views. Similar to other far-righters such as Ben Shapiro and Tomi Lahren, Owens tends to rely on fast-talking and provocateur-ish wit over tangible evidence or suitable research.

Christiana Ford
Candace Owens

Ford was very smart in how she set up the poll. First, she limited the number of responses to 200. Second, she used a platform that is very easily to manipulate and submit multiple responses. Finally, she first posted the survey in a Facebook group run by an LPD employee that, according to its rules, considered any speech critical of law enforcement “hate speech.” (Their rules appear to have since been updated to remove the parts calling speech critical of law enforcement “hate speech”.)

The Facebook group, which has 7,700 members, banned The Lexington Times after we pointed out these inconsistencies. The group regularly removes comments and bans users who are critical of police, but at the same time, LEAVES UP racist comments about Black people. It was the “perfect” group for Ford to post her poll and get the results she needed.

Ford posted the poll in the cops’ racist Facebook group and within minutes it hit its response capacity. Once the survey filled up, Ford posted it around in other places online, but users received a message that their responses could not be recorded.

The cleverness of this ruse is indicative of LEX18’s agenda. Despite LPD having numerous, credible allegations of racism against them, LEX18 chose to use their power and resources to fabricate and promote a false narrative that Lexingtonians trust the police, based solely on data obtained from a racist LPD Facebook group.

LEX did not interview any Black or Brown activists for their story, in fact, the only POC involved from what we can tell was the reporter. She did interview the White assistant police chief, though, and there is NEVER a single mention of the LPD’s recent misconduct.

Tokenism is the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to be inclusive to members of minority groups, especially by recruiting people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of racial or gender equality within a workplace or educational context.

You can watch the portion of the story where the fabricated poll is discussed below:

It’s unclear how deep a role Ford played in actually creating the story–it’s possible she was manipulated or forced to do it by LEX18’s pro-police management. She said she was “not authorized” to comment to the media when asked for comment and asked us to email a generic inbox for news tips with our questions. LEX18 management didn’t go to bat for her. They ignored our email requesting comment.

Alisha Kattara, a community member and activist spoke with us about the story. She had A LOT of concerns, too.

We feel as if it should have been posted in a general area where all people in the community had access to it not within private groups that are known to be pro police.

It also needed instructions on how to take it, what the values meant and the amount of people allowed to answer before it closed was not sufficient to get the views of the community as a whole. The group I found it in had predominantly white members and most of them are very pro police. Even the wording of the post made it seem as if the poll was placed there to get a positive result which showed the community did trust the police even though we know from all the things that have happened recently and within the past two years, for the most part a lot of this community does not trust the police.

From the 9-hour hearing where the chief of police, lieutenant of the PIU, and a sergeant admitted to knowing of multiple racist acts within the police department and nothing was done to those officers to sexual harassment of a female officer which resulted in only a one-day suspension, many of us do not trust the police. Recently police disciplines come up to council about a cop who has multiple disciplines for not only not using his body camera but also having a narcotics such as heroin in his trunk from undetermined sources and people he did not arrest.

I don’t see how we’re supposed to have trust that these officers are patrolling our streets. There’s absolutely no transparency and counsel is not able to ask additional questions about discipline and get answers before they sign their names to those disciplines.

They want people to believe that the entire time the protests were happening it wasn’t about the police in this city but a simple Google search of Lexington KY police officer suspension will show you that all of the things that were asked for in the protest had everything to do with the officers that are in this city and their actions.

They also tried to distance themselves from the whole Breonna Taylor murder but they do so by not telling people that Brent Hankinson was an officer for LPD first and instead of firing him they forced him to resign with the recommendation he never work for another Police Department. Because they destroyed his records no other police department that he applied for could find out why he was fired with those recommendations. Thanks to the local protest that has now changed.

Alisha Kattara, community member