A new report on the ties between U.S. law enforcement and right-wing militia groups from a former FBI special agent reveals that white supremacist groups have made inroads with police in every region of the country over the past two decades.
- The Guardian reported that Michael German, “a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.”
- According to German’s report, “police links to militias and white supremacist groups have been uncovered in states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.”
- Included in the report is an occasion in 2018 when police in Sacramento, California, “with neo-Nazis to pursue charges against anti-racist activists, including some who had been stabbed, according to records.”
And just this summer, German writes, an Orange county sheriff’s deputy and a Chicago policeman were caught wearing far-right militia logos; an Olympia, Washington, officer was photographed posing with a militia group; and Philadelphia police officers were filmed standing by while armed mobs attacked protesters and journalists.
- German told The Guardian that it is difficult to ascertain the exact scale of ties between police and militias, explaining, “Nobody is collecting the data and nobody is actively looking for these law enforcement officers.”
- “Few police agencies have explicit policies against affiliating with white supremacist groups,” the publication reported, and “If police officers are disciplined, the measures often lead to protracted litigation.”
The report is timely, as The Guardian noted that “This week, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, faced intense scrutiny over their response to armed white men and militia groups gathered in the city amid demonstrations by Black Lives Matter activists and others over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black father of three who was left paralyzed after being shot in the back.”
- The protests eventually turned deadly: “On Wednesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who appeared to consider himself a militia member and had posted ‘blue lives matter’ content, was arrested on suspicion of murder after the fatal shooting of two protesters.”
Activists in Kenosha say police there have responded aggressively and violently to Black Lives Matter demonstrators, while doing little to stop armed white vigilantes. Supporting their claims is at least one video taken before the shooting that showed police tossing bottled water to what appeared to be armed civilians, including one who appeared to be the shooter, the AP noted: “We appreciate you being here,” an officer said on loudspeaker.
German told the Guardian on Wednesday: “Far-right militants are allowed to engage in violence and walk away while protesters are met with violent police actions.” This “negligent response”, he added, empowers violent groups in dangerous and potentially lethal ways: “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.”