Like a cancer patient in denial, America has a problem with white supremacists in law enforcement.
If you’re thinking; “No it doesn’t!”… set that thought aside for a moment and examine some evidence. There is ample documentation and both FBI and scholarly reference that it is true. These sources are linked in the list at the bottom of the page.
I am not being ‘anti-cop’ any more than a diagnosis of cancer is anti-health. I am “anti-racism” and “anti-white-supremacist.” Many police departments have not been compromised but some major departments have been. Think of the good cops you personally know, and how this situation places them in danger.
As of 31 May, 2020, following the cool, deliberate on-camera execution of George Floyd, protests are taking place all across the country. Some of them have turned violent, but it does not appear to be the actual protesters who instigate the violence. In some cases it has been instigators and in others, it has actually been the police. And behind all of this tumult, there is a root cause.
As far back as 2006, the FBI warned that white supremacists were infiltrating law enforcement:
In the 2006 bulletin, the FBI detailed the threat of white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police in order to disrupt investigations against fellow members and recruit other supremacists. The bulletin was released during a period of scandal for many law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including a neo-Nazi gang formed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who harassed black and Latino communities. Similar investigations revealed officers and entire agencies with hate group ties in Illinois, Ohio and Texas.
Little was done. In 2019, the Lewis & Clark Law Review published a legal analysis of continued white supremacist influence in law enforcement titled “KKK in the PD”. The report reads:
Unfortunately, this significant rise in hate group membership and hate ideology is seen not just in the public but within law enforcement as well. Newer white supremacist organizations have focused on veterans,11 college students12 and infiltrating police departments.13 Communities of color feel they cannot seek safety by calling police. Many in communities of color already are afraid of police because of the killings of unarmed blacks and other minorities that have been making headlines for decades but particularly since the killings in Ferguson,14 Staten Island,15 Cincinnati16 and elsewhere.17
Social media has played its part. Several Facebook groups have been created where law enforcement can trade racist and Islamophobic material. Some police departments have been sifting through social media posts, deciding what to do.
I found a wealth of documentation regarding this trend, some of it too offensive to even consider posting. The field is large, and complex, and there are aspects I have not touched on. But as a country we need to align with our promise of liberty and justice for all.
- Brookings Institute: What the capitol insurgency reveals about white supremacy and law enforcement
- 2019 Lewis & Clark Law Review: KKK in the PD
- 2019 The Guardian: “Good day for a chokehold” The police endorsing racism and violence on Facebook
- 2019 Bloomberg Citylab report: Exposing the racist Facebook posts of city cops
- 2006 FBI Memo, “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement” (pdf)
- The Intercept, report on unredacted version of the memo
- PBS Newshour: FBI warned of white supremacists in law enforcement ten years ago – has anything changed?
- An updated database of police killings, and its racial disparity. Keep in mind that just as epidemiological death data represents many people who got sick but didn’t die, every killing is a proxy for many more undocumented instances of assault or intimidation. You can download the actual database if you want to see the raw data: Mapping Police Violence dot org
- Council on Foreign Relations: How Police Compare In Different Democracies
- Harvard Law Review: Law Enforcement’s ‘Warrior’ Problem
- This post originally had a picture of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, hands in pockets, calmly kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. But here’s the deal: I’ve read several places that videos and images showing actual violence, necessary as they are, are traumatizing to people of color who must live with that reality. So images like that should only be used when absolutely necessary to make a point.