White supremacist groups have infiltrated the ranks of US law enforcement agencies all over the country in the last two decades, a new report conducted by a retired FBI agent claims.
The new analysis, conducted by ex-special agent Michael German, sought to assess ties between serving police officers and far-right groups.
German’s report ultimately determines that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, with hundreds of officers also found to have posted racist and bigoted posts to social media.
‘The harms that armed law enforcement officers affiliated with violent white supremacist and anti-government militia groups can inflict on American society could hardly be overstated,’ German wrote in his report.
‘Yet despite the FBI’s acknowledgement of the links between law enforcement and these suspected terrorist groups, the Justice Department has no national strategy designed to identify white supremacist police officers or to protect the safety and civil rights of the communities they patrol.’
Chicago Police Department officer Kyle Mingari is seen wearing a ‘Three Percenters’ logo on his face mask at a downtown protest in June
German’s report ultimately determines that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, with hundreds of officers also found to have posted racist and bigoted posts to social media (Pictured: Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer clash with protesters in Portland, August 22)
The report highlights that, over the last two decades, police links to armed militias and white supremacist groups have been uncovered in numerous states, including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
German says while it’s ‘widely acknowledged’ that racist officers subsist within police departments across the US, federal, state and local governments are not doing enough to proactively identify them or report their behavior to prosecutors.
The timely new analysis, conducted by ex-special agent Michael German (above), sought to assess ties between serving police officers and far-right groups
The former FBI investigator points out that those same prosecutors may one day unwittingly rely on one such officer’s testimony in a criminal case.
‘Efforts to address systemic and implicit biases in law enforcement are unlikely to be effective in reducing the racial disparities in the criminal justice system as long as explicit racism in law enforcement continues to endure,’ German wrote. ‘There is ample evidence to demonstrate that it does.’
Citing a number of examples, German writes how, in 2001, two sheriff’s deputies in Williams County, Texas, were fired after it was discovered they were active members of the Klu Klux Klan.
Deputy David Gay, 45, and Sgt. Greg Palm, 29, only revealed their affiliation with the hate group after attempting to recruit other officers of the department to join.
Similarly, in Fruitland Park, Florida, three officers were fired or opted to resign between 2009 and 2014 after their Klan membership was discovered.
In 2019, a police officer in Muskegon, Michigan, was fired after prospective homebuyers said they saw Confederate flag and a framed KKK application framed in his home during a viewing.
Officer Charles Anderson tried to claim the flags were part of his extensive ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ collection, and said the framed KKK application was displayed out of his love for US History. He was later terminated.
And in 2020, three officers from the Wilmington Police Department in North Carolina were fired when a routine audit of camera recordings uncovered conversations in which the officers used racial epithets and other disparaging remarks about black people.
The conversations, held between Michael Piner, Jesse Moore and James Gilmore, included sickening conversations about slaughtering black residents and deriding Black Lives Matter protesters.
‘We are just going to go out and start slaughtering them f***ing n******,’ Piner was heard saying in one exchange, theorizing that anti-police protests would lead to a civil war.
Members of the far-right group Proud Boys clash with counter-protesters in downtown Kalamazoo, MI
In 2019, a police officer in Muskegon, Michigan, Charle Anderson (above), was fired after prospective homebuyers said they saw Confederate flag and a framed KKK application framed in his home during a viewing
Beyond affiliations with racist groups or officers allegedly harboring racist views, German’s report also highlights instances in which police have reportedly actively collaborated with far-right groups.
In one such example, he points out that in 2018, police in Sacramento, California, were found to be working with neo-Nazis to pursue charges against anti-racist activists who were stabbed or beaten during a far-right rally in 2016.
While failing to charge any white supremacists for the stabbings or assaults – which left two critically wounded – the police instead launched an investigation into 100 anti-fascist counter protesters, recommending 500 charges against them, court files from the time say.
Similarly, at a KKK rally in Anaheim the same year, police arrested seven anti-racism protesters but did not charge a Klansman who reportedly stabbed three people.
During the white supremacist Rise Above Movement march in Huntington Beach, in 2017, police refused to investigate the battery of OC Weekly journalists by members of the group.
The Orange County district attorney did, however, prosecute an anti-fascist protester who attempted to defend the journalists by slapping one of the white supremacist attackers.
Likewise, in Washington DC, in 2019, a group of Proud Boys members disrupted a flag burning outside the front of the White House, instigating a scuffle with a communist group.
Two of the communist protests were led away in cuffs, however the Proud Boys members were escorted away from the scene and allowed to walk free.
Some of the officers who were on scene were later see fist-bumping the Proud boys members when they walked into a bar later the same day, an investigation found.
Police in Sacramento, California, were found to be working with neo-Nazis to pursue charges against anti-racist activists who were stabbed (one victim seen above) or beaten during a far-right rally in 2016
Activists have accused police of responding violently and aggressively towards then, though doing little to stop armed white vigilantes
The exact scale of ties between law enforcement and militias is hard to determine, German said in his report. ‘Nobody is collecting the data and nobody is actively looking for these law enforcement officers,’ he explained to the Guardian.
He said that often an officer is only terminated or punished for racist affiliations following public scandals. This is because few police agencies have explicit policies against affiliating with white supremacist groups. If police officers are disciplined, the measures often lead to lengthy litigation.
German also said while other law enforcement officials may not necessarily associate with white supremacist groups, many engage in overtly racist activities in public, on social media, or over law enforcement–only communication channels and internet chat rooms.
He cites a 2019 report published by the Plain View Project that found 5,000 patently bigoted social media posts by 3,500 accounts identified as belonging to current and former law enforcement officials. The report sparked dozens of investigations across the country.
‘Unfortunately, there is no central database that lists law enforcement officers fired for misconduct.’ German explains. ‘As a result, some police officers dismissed for involvement in racist activity are able to secure other law enforcement jobs.’
: The Proud Boys, an alt-right group, faces off against Black Lives Matters protesters using mace and a paint ball gun on August 15
Concerns about alleged relations between far-right groups and law enforcement in the US have intensified since the start of months-long protests sparked by the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd in May.
Police in states including California, Oregon, Illinois and Washington are now facing investigations for their alleged affinity to far-right groups opposing Black Lives Matter, according to the report.
During the protests, German says a number of officers across the country have even flaunted their affiliations with far-right militant groups.
A veteran sheriff’s deputy monitoring a Black Lives Matter protest in Orange County, California, was pictured with the logos of the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers — two far-right militant groups – emblazoned on his bulletproof vest.
After an activist shared a photograph of the officer online, a sheriff determined wearing the logos was ‘unacceptable’ and the deputy was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Around the same time, Kyle Mingari, a 13-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, fell subject to a similar investigation, after he was photographed wearing a face covering with a Three Percenters’ logo while on duty at a protest.
The officer had been the subject of several previous misconduct lawsuits, including an excessive use of force suit following a nonfatal shooting, that the city of Chicago paid $400,000 to settle.
A veteran sheriff’s deputy monitoring a Black Lives Matter protest in Orange County, California, was pictured with the logos of the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers — two far-right militant groups – emblazoned on his bulletproof vest
In Olympia, Washington, a policewoman was pictured posing and smiling with heavily armed members of the Three Percenters in June
In Olympia, Washington, a policewoman was pictured posing and smiling with heavily armed members of the Three Percenters in June.
One of the militia members posted the photograph on social media, claiming that the officer and her partner had come over to thank them as they guarded a local shopping center.
And in Philadelphia, police officers were filmed standing idle while a group of mostly white men armed with bats, clubs, and long gun attacked journalists and protesters.
While the matter remains under investigation, officers from the department were later seen fraternizing with several men wearing Proud Boys regalia and carrying a Proud Boys flag at a ‘Back the Blue’ party at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.
German called the affinity some police officers have shown for armed far-right militia groups as ‘confounding’, considering that several state have law prohibiting unregulated paramilitary activities, and that ‘far-right militants have often killed police officers.’
This week, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, faced intense scrutiny over their response to armed militias descending on the city streets amid Black Lives Matter demonstrations in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, who was shot seven times in the back and left paralyzed.
On Wednesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who appeared to consider himself a militia member and had previously posted on social media in support of ‘Blue Lives Matter’, was arrested on suspicion of murder after the fatal shooting of two protesters.
This week, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, faced intense scrutiny over their response to armed militias descending on the city streets amid Black Lives Matter demonstrations in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, who was shot seven times in the back and left paralyzed
On Wednesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who appeared to consider himself a militia member and had previously posted on social media in support of ‘Blue Lives Matter’, was arrested on suspicion of murder after the fatal shooting of two protesters
Activists in the city have accused police of responding violently and aggressively towards then, though doing little to stop armed white vigilantes.
In one video that appeared to include Rittenhouse, police were seen handing out water to armed vigilantes, telling them ‘We appreciate you being here,’ over a loud speaker.
Police also reportedly let the gunman walk past them with a rifle as the crowd yelled for him to be arrested because he had shot people. Rittenhouse returned home that night before being arrested the following day.
‘Far-right militants are allowed to engage in violence and walk away while protesters are met with violent police actions,’ German told the Guardian.
He said this ‘negligent response’ empowers violent groups to a potentially fatal degree.
‘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.’
There is growing awareness in some parts of the government about the intensifying threat of white supremacy, German says.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have directly identified white supremacists as the most lethal domestic terrorist threat in the country.
According to German’s report, the FBI’s own internal documents have directly warned that the militia groups the agency is investigating often have ‘active links’ to law enforcement.
Despite this, German says no effective policy is in place to identify white supremacist police to root out the problem.
Meanwhile, German warns that popular police reform efforts to address ‘implicit bias’ have done nothing to address explicit racism.
‘In a time when the effort to defund police is getting some salience, the police are behaving in such a way as to justify that argument,’ German said.