A Reuters investigation on May 6 indicates that a significant number of U.S. police instructors have ties to a constellation of armed right-wing militias and white supremacists hate groups, a report that adds to a fast-growing body of evidence showing a deadly threat inside U.S. police departments.
The analysis found that some of the instructional information presented by police trainers was explicitly racist, and that some instructors endorsed and interacted with white supremacist criminal groups such as the Proud Boys.
The investigation adds to mounting academic research, government audits and news reporting that demonstrates the pervasiveness of white supremacy in U.S. law enforcement, and a continuing series of incidents documenting the presence of extremist groups and views among law enforcement.
More and more, the evidence suggests the “white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement” that the FBI warned about back in 2006 is getting worse. And it points to a desperate need for policies – departmental and legislative – to prohibit people who engage in racist conduct or join white supremacist groups from becoming police officers or remaining on the force.
The analysis by Reuters found at least 15 self-identified law enforcement trainers and dozens of retired instructors listed in a database of members of the Oath Keepers, one of several violent anti-government groups that led the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
A federal judge in Los Angeles found that local sheriff’s deputies were involved in a neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang that targeted Black and Latino people more than 25 years ago, in 1991, Johnson said. Yet Los Angeles is still dealing with racist gangs in its police department even today.
A number of additional high-profile examples of explicit police racism have emerged even in the few months since Johnson’s article was published earlier this year. Government investigations released just last month found widespread racism, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment within the Minneapolis Police Department and in police agencies across California, for example.
The FBI said last year that the top domestic violent extremist threat facing the U.S. is from “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race.”