By Alex Dominguez
NORWALK -- Public safety has given way to rampant racism and scorn on a local community-driven social media crime watch page.
On Facebook, there are several crime watch pages for surrounding communities. While not associated with local law enforcement or city government, these groups usually consist of community members who wish to keep themselves and others informed on potential crimes happening in the city at an almost to-the-minute timeframe.
In the case of Norwalk, however, the seemingly sole crime watch page seems more dedicated to the ostracism of illegal immigrants and homeless than actual crime.
It begins with a questionnaire, which bluntly lines out that it must be answered to be granted approval into the group.
Potential new members are posed with three questions, which ask:
“Are you a President Trump supporter? If not. Don’t even bother. I will block you. Answer, or you won’t be accepted…,”
“Do you believe that Illegal aliens are criminals and need to be deported?”
“Do you believe the homeless in Norwalk need to be rounded up and removed from Norwalk? Answer, or you will not be accepted..”
Page activity recently seemed to be dominated by one individual - whose profile and posts have since disappeared from the page - who regularly laced his posts and inquiries into potential criminal events with derogatory terms such as “chunti wetbacks” and “pisas,” terms the man defended in one post as “slang terms not racist.”
Members who have attempted to call out the racist word choice and activity often-times found themselves chastised by other members who seemed to approve of the conduct.
The page’s sole admin also seems to partake in many of the questionable threads. While the admin doesn’t seem to use the same language as the aforementioned group member, his posts often specifically single out “the illegals.”
A recent post by the admin even states, “I see we have a lot of Liberal Snowflakes in this group who are easily offended by the term “Illegal alien”. Well too bad…”
Minorities are not the only people to draw the ire of the page’s attention, either.
Another post, again made by the page admin, pictured a homeless person passed out on a sidewalk, referring to the person as a “drunk, homeless f---...” before going on to say, “The homeless in Norwalk need to be rounded up and removed from Norwalk. Take them out to the desert or something…”
Neither the admin nor the questionably active user replied to a request for an interview.
Kandy Heinemann Grzebyk, the founder of Downey’s crime watch page, said her group also utilizes Facebook’s questionnaire feature but their questions are drastically different.
“We ask why they want to join, if they’ll read the guidelines if they’re approved,” said Grzebyk.
When asked about the Norwalk questionnaire, Grzebyk, who is a member of the Norwalk page, said that she had seen some concern over the Norwalk page’s requirements.
“They didn’t have those questions when I joined,” says Grzebyk. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. That’s ridiculous.”
These highly politically-fueled topics aren’t necessarily out of the ordinary for crime watch pages. The difference, however, is how they are handled.
“That’s not what the page is about,” said Grzebyk, speaking of her own page. “If it did come up, I think it would probably start a fight and we’d delete it.”
Even Downey’s other crime watch page, Downey Crime Watch Anything Goes Edition - which is more lenient towards political debate according to admin Ray Metzger – keeps a leash on sensitive subjects.
“Sometimes it’ll go a little political,” said Metzger. “I try not to go too much.”