In his article for The Intercept this week, author Ryan Devereaux notes: “Police in Kenosha told armed vigilantes, ‘We appreciate you guys. We really do.’ Then one of them killed two protesters.”
Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old who is alleged to have murdered two protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin and wounded a third last week, embodies the entire thesis of this article.
The Trump Presidency and its foreign allies have cultivated a small but violent cadre in America. They will kill for Donald Trump. They already have. They will again. Trump applauds them. Trump supporters applaud them. Most of all, elements within the nation’s police force support them.
The Shaping of a Republican Guard
Critical to Trump’s Far Right insurrection against the Constitution and Democracy are his allies among the nation’s police force. Trump has made clear that he may not accept the results of the election. By cultivating violent supporters on the streets and triggering sympathetic police to protect them, the elements are aligned to create a “Republican Guard” to enforce an emergency declaration following the election, however it turns out. If Trump wins, he will move forcefully to impose his will through a series of administrative orders. If Trump loses, he will forcefully impose his will through a series of “emergency orders.” In both cases, he will need a Republican Guard, just like Saddam Hussein, to quell rioting in the streets.
Police Ignored Murder in Kenosha
The minutes following Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting of protestors paints a clear picture of the attitude of police toward violent acts committed by pro-Trump agents. Rittenhouse systematically shot protestors, in front of witnesses, and then walked up to police with his hands up. Bystanders implored the police to arrest him. But the police literally ignored Rittenhouse, looking the other way, pushing past him as if moving to some other urgent matter. Eventually Rittenhouse went back home to Illinois where he awaited the police. When the police were finally forced by public outrage to do something, Kyle was sitting peacefully at home. Clearly, the police really do “…appreciate” (the armed vigilantes and militia), “they really do…”
The Far Right “Grooming of the Police”
Pete Simi, a sociologist at Chapman University who spent decades studying the proliferation of white supremacists in the U.S. military and police forces cites the origin of U.S. policing-- the slave patrols of the 18th and 19th centuries. “If you look at the history of law enforcement in the United States, it is a history of white supremacy…More recently, just going back 50 years, law enforcement, particularly in the South, was filled with Klan members.”
The history of policing in America is a history of collusion between the wealthy and corporate vested interests and the departments which they fund to maintain their order and authority.
During the Reconstruction, police entities worked in concert with local militias, lone vigilantes, and of course, the Ku Klux Klan, to systematically amputate any outgrowth of Black agency. Pro-business southern Democrats were insistent on having economic dominance over the Black population, because only by exploitation of that vast source of labor could their previous levels of wealth be equaled. And so it was done; not only were whites empowered by the local authorities to violently repress freed black folk, and not only did the police orchestrate a good portion of that violence, but white society eventually struck a deal with itself. The Klan was abetted regularly by local police (many of whom were members themselves), militias were given free rein to terrorize black congregations, and night riders operated with impunity. Finally, Rutherford B. Hayes was made president in exchange for equalizing power in the South, and black autonomy was offered up as a sacrifice.
Police were called on by their Bosses to break up pickets during the rise of the Union Movement, well into the 1930s. And of course, they broke up meetings of leftist activists that grew during the Great Depression, while they acted as security for the Pro-Nazi rallies before the US entered WWII. The most famous of those rallies was the one held at Madison Square Garden with 20,000 American citizens in attendance. A video of this huge rally can be watched at the link below. The uniformed police are seen rushing on stage to eject a protestor at about 4:20. https://yhoo.it/2QJuhEe
The connection between the Far Right and the local police is well known and well-studied. Police departments tend to recruit from a cohort that finds authority attractive. Many come from the military which has, itself, become a virtual hive for Right Wing recruitment.
The FBI saw this coming 14 years ago when they released a highly redacted bulletin on the influence of White Supremacists. The FBI bulletin identified white supremacists in law enforcement as a concern, because of their access to both “restricted areas vulnerable to sabotage” and elected officials or people who could be seen as “potential targets for violence.” The memo also warned of “ghost skins,” hate group members who don’t overtly display their beliefs in order to “blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.” [My emphasis]
“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,” the report read.
Back in 1991, there was a major scandal when a judge ruled that the Los Angeles police departments had been infiltrated by Neo-Nazis.
Mayor Michael White of Cleveland, Ohio expressed frustration with the evidence of neo-Nazi influences among his police force in 1999.
In 2014 two police officers in Florida, including the Deputy Chief, were fired when an FBI informant linked them to the Klan
In a two part investigative piece published in June of last year, the Center for Investigative Reporting documents the following:
“Hundreds of active-duty and retired law enforcement officers from across the United States are members of Confederate, anti-Islam, misogynistic or anti-government militia groups on Facebook, a Reveal investigation has found…The groups cover a range of extremist ideologies. Some present themselves publicly as being dedicated to benign historical discussion of the Confederacy but are replete with racism inside. Some trade in anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant memes. Some are openly Islamophobic. And almost 150 of the officers we found are involved with violent anti-government groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.”
In Chicago, Lasalle police officers Matthew Kunkel and Mark Manicki attended the re-open Illinois rally in Springfield. They were apparently off at duty at the time, wearing vests with the letter Q, which stands for QAnon. The Anti-Defamation League’s David Goldenberg describes QAnon as a conspiracy theory “…Driven largely by right wing extremists and also some common supporters of President Trump…”
In Philadelphia, the Daily Beast reports on the ties between the Philly police and the Proud Boys, with officers and the fascist front intersecting off-duty.
In Portland, Oregon, the ties between the police and the Far Right have been documented.
In Connecticut, a police officer retired after a civil rights organization raised concerns about his membership in a far-right group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies, a town official said Friday.
There are literally hundreds of incidents like this and it is always a concern that for the ones who are caught through carelessness there are many others who remain undiscovered.
The Police Unions and Organizations are Pro-Trump Agents
It is not a secret that Trump has secured the support of police unions throughout the U.S. This is helpful to Trump whose intent is to create chaos and incite violence in Democratic cities around the country. I have presented only a fraction of the evidence of rank and file ties to the right-wing elements engaged in provoking and committing acts of violence at the Black Lives Matter protests, but it is the police union that firewalls and protect the racist cops engaged with those extremists. Even now we see the police union defending the killer of Floyd George, stonewalling investigations into the police mishandling of the arrest of Kyle Rittenhouse, and actively feeding disinformation directed against the so-called “Antifa” while ignoring abundant ACTIONABLE intelligence about incidence of right-wing extremist violence.
An important article published in Mother Jones Magazine about the power of police unions is a “must read” for anyone following the current unfolding of social justice in America. Police union corruption and racism as well as the Trump politicization of the “Blue Lives Matter” movement is documented in the piece. If you read this article online, you can link to it by footnote. In this article, Mother Jones investigative journalist Samantha Michaels looks especially at the conduct of the police union in Minneapolis, where Officer Derek Chauvin killed Floyd George.
The longtime head of the union, Bill Kroll, is a Trump activist. Here is what Ms Michaels wrote about Mr Kroll (much of the following material --italicised--is from Ms Michael’s article, it is that important!):
“Not long after Kroll’s election, two white officers in Minneapolis killed 24-year-old Jamar Clark after they said he’d reached for one of their guns during an arrest, igniting protests across the city. Kroll accused Clark of having a violent criminal history. When a federal investigation cleared the officers of wrongdoing, Kroll referred to Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization.”
Kroll had “a history of discriminatory attitudes and conduct,” according to a 2007 lawsuit alleging racism in the police department, filed by officers including then-Lieutenant Medaria Arradondo, who is Black and now the city’s chief of police. In 2007, colleagues accused Kroll of insinuating that Keith Ellison, who had just become the first Muslim elected to Congress, was a “terrorist” (Kroll denies the allegation). The lawsuit also accused Kroll of wearing a motorcycle jacket with a White Power patch. In June, Kroll was made to address that allegation too. He denied it but said he’s a member of the City Heat motorcycle club, some of whose members have been accused of displaying white supremacist symbols. He did not respond to questions from Mother Jones.
But with respect to Unions in general
But it’s not just racist bark—unions have bite, thanks to protections they’ve won through collective bargaining. “Police unions have gotten in their contracts all sorts of provisions which make it difficult to investigate and find officers guilty of misconduct,” says Samuel Walker, a researcher on police unions and an emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
In at least 50 cities, according to a 2017 Duke Law Journalarticle, union contracts require police departments to wait a significant period of time, normally at least 48 hours, before interviewing an officer for misconduct, providing the officer with ample time to come up with a justification for their behavior, align their story with those of colleagues, or speak with a lawyer. In at least 34 cities, departments must show officers all the evidence against them before the questioning. And in dozens of cities, contracts require police departments to destroy or seal officers’ disciplinary records after a certain period of time, sometimes as little as two years after the offense. Other contracts prevent investigators from considering an officer’s past misconduct in disciplinary proceedings, and some shield disciplinary records from public view altogether. “It’s a huge issue for accountability,” says Samuel Sinyangwe, a data scientist with Campaign Zero who studies police unions. If officers’ histories are systematically purged, he says, it’s hard to identify those who repeatedly engage in misconduct, let alone remove them from the force.
Trump, meanwhile, is every police union boss’s dream. In June, after threatening to deploy the military against antipolice protesters, he unveiled a tepid proposal to improve police training and track misconduct. He did so at a Rose Garden ceremony surrounded by police union officials; no family members of Black people who had been killed by police were present. “I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defend [sic], dismantle, and dissolve our police departments,” he declared. “Americans want law and order. They demand law and order,” he added. “They may not say it, they may not be talking about it, but that’s what they want.”
Blue Lies Matter
As we head into the last 60 days of this election, Donald Trump’s goal is to destabilize the election and generate enough chaos to make a case to his base that the election has been rigged by leftists, if he loses.
The police carry a lot of institutional credibility. We have all cheered on the “first responders” who serve and protect our communities, including the police. But the change to the institution of policing in Trump’s America is shocking and dangerous.
The systematic disinformation by police regarding the agents of violence in current political clashes is the biggest lie being perpetrated in support of the Trump re-election narrative. The violence is not coming from the Antifa or the Left; it is coming from Trump-supporters on the Right.
It is now clear that the appearance of federal police in Portland at the beginning of the clashes with Right-Wing provocateurs was orchestrated and coordinated at the highest levels of the Trump Administration. That is why, when the mayor of Portland asked his own police to intervene between the federal police and the peaceful protestors, he was ignored.
Police are systematically leaking damaging information against BLM protestors, political figures involved with BLM, and victims of police violence to the Right Wing blogosphere which amplifies it. Police have also been accused of assisting the Right in doxxing individuals, like the mayor of Portland and the leaders of the BLM, who are then subject to harassment by Trump’s allies on the Far Right.
Blue Lies also matter to the Police themselves lest they “reap the Whirlwind” they have seeded with their complicity with the Right. There is already an example of how this could be so. Last May 29, there was a killing of two police officers in Oakland, California. The police arrested Air Force Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32 and suspected accomplice Robert A. Justus Jr., 30. Police learned that Carillo and Justus have ties to a Right Wing extremist group that also supports Donald Trump, the Boogaloo Boys. The “Boogaloo” is the great race war that will restore White dominion over America, according to their myth. You might say that they want to “Make America Great Again.”
From the LA Times:
Tuesday, federal law enforcement officials announced that they were charging Air Force Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, the alleged owner of that vest, and suspected accomplice Robert A. Justus Jr., 30, of Millbrae in the May 29 shooting death of a federal security officer in Oakland.
Officials said Carrillo, who also faces state charges in the June 6 killing of a Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputy, was a follower of the “boogaloo” movement, which a federal complaint said is not a fixed group but includes people who identify themselves as militia and target perceived government tyranny.
Blue Lies Matter because they may well cause us all to reap a whirlwind that we neither asked for nor deserve.