Two years ago, court documents revealed several California police officers expressed sympathy with white supremacists, and even solicited their help targeting counter protesters after a violent June 2016 white nationalist rally in Sacramento that resulted in anti-fascist protesters being stabbed.
The documents were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists charged with felonies who urged a judge to dismiss their case. They also accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists.”
“At least one white supremacist group has reportedly encouraged ghost skins to seek positions in law enforcement for the capability of alerting skinhead crews of pending investigative action against them.”
According to the analysis, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism, White Supremacy, and Far-Right Militancy in Law Enforcement,” by former FBI special agent Michael German, now fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, law enforcement officials have been connected to far-right militias in over a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have spread bigoted messages on their social media accounts.
German’s report states:
“Explicit racism in law enforcement takes many forms, from membership or affiliation with violent white supremacist or far-right militant groups, to engaging in racially discriminatory behavior toward the public or law enforcement colleagues, to making racist remarks and sharing them on social media.”
“While it is widely acknowledged that racist officers subsist within police departments around the country, federal, state, and local governments are doing far too little to proactively identify them, report their behavior to prosecutors who might unwittingly rely on their testimony in criminal cases, or protect the diverse communities they are sworn to serve.”
This week’s protests over the police murder of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin exposed this element in modern-day policing again when, as Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters allege, police have responded aggressively and violently toward them while seeming to coddle armed white vigilante counter-protesters.
A video taken before “blue lives matter” militia member Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire and killed two BLM protesters shows police tossing water bottles to armed civilians. One officer broadcasted “We appreciate you being here” via loudspeaker.
This is astonishing video. Officers in Kenosha in military vehicles stopped to engage with armed white men, told them they were appreciated and offered them bottles of water. pic.twitter.com/O5lJxwgf3M
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) August 26, 2020
Michael German explains:
“Far-right militants are allowed to engage in violence and walk away while protesters are met with violent police actions. The most violent elements within these far-right militant groups believe that their conduct is sanctioned by the government. And therefore they’re much more willing to come out and engage in acts of violence against protesters.”
“If the government knew that al-Qaeda or Isis had infiltrated American law enforcement agencies, it would undoubtedly initiate a nationwide effort to identify them and neutralize the threat they posed. Yet white supremacists and far-right militants have committed far more attacks and killed more people in the US over the last 10 years than any foreign terrorist movement.”
Last June, Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) approached FBI counter-terrorism chief Michael McGarrity about his feelings about the white supremacist/law enforcement connection since the 2006 FBI bulletin.
McGarrity admitted not reading it.
When pressed about white supremacist infiltration, he stated he would be “suspect” of white supremacist police officers, but defended their first amendment rights.
The 2006 bulletin addresses this:
“Although the First Amendment’s freedom of association provision protects an individual’s right to join white supremacist groups for the purposes of lawful activity, the government can limit the employment opportunities of group members who hold sensitive public sector jobs, including jobs within law enforcement, when their memberships would interfere with their duties.”
The “defending their First Amendments rights” claim is a cop-out.
This is one of the myriad reforms to policing we need to make.
If we’re expected to hold pillars of our communities accountable for their associations, we mustn’t exempt those with the state-sanctioned power to detain and kill.