The National Police Association is a pro-police nonprofit that actual police organizations have accused of being a scam. Furries, on the other hand, are people who create alternate identities (“fursonas”) as cartoon animals. Since last week, the two groups have been in a raging catfight, with the NPA accusing furries of sending them “obscene” images, and furries accusing the NPA of preemptively blocking people with cartoon animal avatars.
Buried amid the dogpile of feuding accounts are real questions about the NPA, and how it’s spending its millions in a time of surging scrutiny of cops and their noisy allies.
The claws came out on Saturday, according to furry news site Dogpatch Press. That’s when prominent furries discovered themselves blocked by the NPA, apparently without provocation. “rt if you’re a furry and you’ve been blocked by @NatPoliceAssoc I wanna see something,” one tweeted. The post currently has more than 1,000 retweets.
Furries speculated that either a bored social media manager was manually blocking members of their community, or that the NPA was using some kind of automated block-list, which had labeled furry accounts as unsavory.
“I doubt they specifically blocked me,” Deo, a Tasmanian Devil furry, told The Daily Beast after she said she found herself inexplicably banned from reading the NPA’s tweets. “That would be wild.”
The NPA’s president, Eddie Hutchison, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that he had been unaware of furries until his organization incurred their wrath.
“Sometimes when people post obscene images on our timeline, we will block them. Sometimes when there are affiliated accounts posting obscene images, we block the accounts they follow too,” Hutichison said. “It could be that some of those blocked were self-described furries and they have taken particular exception to being blocked.”
Hutchison (and in a subsequent blog post, his organization) denied blocking furries preemptively. But a counter-offensive from furries soon overwhelmed the NPA account, he said.
“Sometimes we retweet tweets from law enforcement agencies,” Hutchison explained. “We can’t do that at the moment because we can’t restrict comments on those. Anything we post gets inundated with graphic images. The only thing we can do is tweet our own material and limit the replies.”
Still, furries can quote-tweet the NPA’s account, he noted. And while The Daily Beast discovered a trove of anti-police memes (including many that celebrated “officer down”) in the account’s quote-tweets, there were few images that could reasonably be called furry porn. Among them was a shirtless drawing of Tom Nook, a racoon from the Animal Crossing video games.
Kind of risqué, but probably short of the “I know when I see it” standard for pornography, especially given that racoons do not naturally wear shirts.
Furries (a few neo-Nazis aside) are an overwhelmingly left-leaning community, according to Twitter user “Asswolf,” a furry and vocal police critic who said he was blocked by the NPA despite never interacting with it. Asswolf told The Daily Beast that the furry scene is “largely LGBT, and that the LGBT community tends to lean towards the left on the political scale.
“That last bit is no big shock to me, considering our country’s past and current treatment of gay and especially trans people,” he said. “But with that large LGBT presence, it would also explain why so many furries are anti-prison, anti-police, pro-liberation, and pro-BLM.”
The NPA is explicitly pro-police. “The NPA works to bring national and local attention to the anti-police efforts challenging effective law enforcement at every turn,” the group’s mission statement reads.
Founded in 2017, the NPA has done brisk fundraising off anti-police sentiment. In its first year of operation, according to public tax filings, the organization raised more than $100,000, none of which appears to have been redistributed to police organizations. (The group’s biggest expenses that year were printing and mailing services, tech, and “professional fundraising services.”)
The NPA stepped up its outreach efforts the following year. In 2018, the Indiana-based organization distributed mailers in 40 states accusing “illegal immigrants” of being “career criminals,” the Eugene Weekly reported at the time. The survey concluded with a plea for money, including a check-box reading, “Although I realize that criminal and terrorist illegal immigrants are flocking to Sanctuary Areas like near where I live, I can’t even make a small donation to NPA at this time.”
The following year, the Indianapolis Star reported that multiple police departments had decried the NPA as scammy, after the organization invoked local police in fundraising mailers. One such mailer, sent to residents of Trenton, Michigan, claimed to be raising money for the “2019 Trenton Area Fund Drive.”
“Today, you and I face the greatest threats to our public safety in our nation’s history. So if you value your safety, and the safety of your family—please—use the enclosed postage-paid envelope to send us your 2019 National Police Association Annual Fund Donation for $10 or more,” the letter began. It concluded with a pledge that “your gift will be put to work immediately in our national effort to give our law enforcement officers the crime prevention tools they need to protect our families and our communities.”
Although the organization’s 2019 tax returns are not yet publicly available, its 2018 returns show nearly $2.3 million in revenue. Once again, those earnings were not spent on grants to police (or to anyone), but largely on professional fundraising services, postage, and office expenses.
Law enforcement agencies—the exact groups the NPA purported to serve—took issue with the mailers. At least four departments issued statements announcing that they were unaffiliated with the NPA.
“You may have, or may be receiving this in the mail,” the Trenton Police Department wrote in a 2019 Facebook post next to a picture of the NPA mailer. “The National Police Association is an official organization. While they are using the ‘Trenton Area’ in the donation line, the Trenton Police Department does not receive money from this organization. Please do your own homework when donating to any charitable cause or organization.”
Other locales issued similar claims, with the City of Belle Isle, Florida, going as far as to encourage people not to give to the NPA and to announce on Facebook that “efforts to contact the National Police Association have been unsuccessful.”
Those complaints resurfaced after the NPA raised furries’ hackles this week. In a statement, the NPA denied that it was a scam, and accused furries of “dredging the internet looking for ways to cancel us. Their weaponized article of choice is one from the Indianapolis Star.”
The NPA claimed that many of the police departments quoted in the Star had since “retracted” their allegations. And indeed, many of those departments either deleted or revised their Facebook posts, sometimes to edit information about whether their city technically fell under a “sanctuary” jurisdiction. (The Trenton Police Department, which deleted its call for citizens to “do your own homework” on donations, did not immediately return a request for comment.)
Even in their updated statements, however, many of those departments stressed that they were not affiliated with the NPA and had never received money from the organization.
Despite its apparent siege by anthropomorphic animals, the NPA has seen its follower count soar this week, up 1,000 accounts from Tuesday to Wednesday.
“Who knows,” Asswolf speculated, “maybe it’s just a ploy to spread a meme through specific communities in an effort to create engagement that will stimulate the twitter algorithms to bolster their account viewership.”
Police—particularly police dogs—have posed a hairy dilemma for furries in the past. Following a brutal police crackdown on protesters in Boston in 2016, participants in the region’s Anthro New England conference debated whether to continue supporting a charity that bought vests for police dogs.
Early this year, the long-running Texas Furry Fiesta announced a new policy against “any attire that is genuine or gives the appearance of being non-fictional military or law enforcement attire with the exception of currently serving military or law enforcement personnel who may wear their duty uniforms.”
Furries in the know said the community was conflicted over people who dressed as police dogs, especially German Shepherds. The backlash went both ways, with some furries accusing the broader community of blocking all German Shepherds on Twitter.
“Even if a Fursona is make-believe, this is a form of discrimination, and I do feel that TFF should have addressed it rather than just delete the issue and pretend it never happened in the first place,” one furry blogger wrote.
In a fusion of the furry fandom’s broad LGBT streak and its niche German-Shepherd-cop-fursona community, some furries have chosen to write and illustrate stories about gay, anthropomorphic German Shepherd cops getting flirty. One 2015 fur-fiction centered on a German Shepherd cop who spoke about cultivating an LGBT-friendly image in order to hire college students.
“Part of our department’s recruiting strategy. Poach liberal college kids into a career in law enforcement by talking about our LGBT-friendly department,” a German Shepherd cop tells a wolf cop, who appears to invite him to a threesome with his husband, a fox.