Experts Warn Oversight Subcommittee that White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement Poses a Threat to Cops, Communities
Washington D.C. (Sept. 29, 2020)—Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, held a remote hearing to examine white supremacists’ infiltration of local law enforcement.
Chairman Raskin issued this statement following the hearing:
“The social contract depends on fair and neutral enforcement of the laws to protect the whole citizenry against criminal violence and state violence. We must work to disentangle the police power of the state from groups and individuals that subscribe to violent white supremacist ideology and seek to inflict harm on African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Jewish Americans, LGBTQ Americans, and anyone who stands in the way of a race war and the civil war that the extreme right is calling for in America today.”
During the hearing this morning, Chairman Raskin released an unredacted version of a 2006 Intelligence Assessment by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) entitled, “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement.” Previously redacted portions of the document, made public for the first time today, reveal startlingly prescient FBI warnings including: “white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement can result in other abuses of authority and passive tolerance of racism within communities served.”
Chairman Raskin emphasized that the failure to address white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement is not only a threat to the safety of Black and Brown communities, but also to law enforcement officers themselves.
Today’s witnesses testified that white supremacist infiltration is an issue demanding the FBI’s attention:
- Mike German, a former FBI agent who completed multiple undercover missions within white supremacist groups, explained the importance of tackling this issue as an urgent matter of national security. He said:
- “If the government knew that al Qaeda or ISIS had infiltrated American law enforcement agencies, it would undoubtedly initiate a nationwide effort to identify them and neutralize the threat they posed. Yet white supremacists and far-right militants have committed far more attacks and killed more people in the U.S. over the last ten years than any foreign terrorist movement, and both the FBI and Department of Homeland Security regard them as the most lethal domestic terror threat. The need for national action on the issue of explicit racism, white supremacy, and far-right militancy in law enforcement is critical.”
The other witnesses—activists and experts who have spent their careers addressing the dangerous intersection of white supremacy and law enforcement—testified about this problem and the need for more action by the FBI:
- Ret. Det. Sgt. Heather Taylor, President of the Ethical Society of Police in St. Louis, advocated for a more expansive effort to root out white supremacist officers, echoing the reforms in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act:
- “I believe more extensive background checks during hiring, immediate termination, and the removal of the police certifications of officers that support white supremacy are the best means to counter white supremacists and their sympathizers in law enforcement. It is not possible to train away racism.”
- Vida Johnson, a professor at Georgetown Law who specializes in policing, testified how the presence of white supremacist views in law enforcement agencies can harm Black and Brown communities, saying:
- “We care about this problem because racist views might translate into racist deeds. For instance, officers may stop citizens based on their race. Racist views have also been shown to lead to violence.”
- Frank Meeink, a former neo-Nazi who is now an author and advocate for racial equality, testified about his own experience being encouraged to join law enforcement by white supremacist leaders, recounting to the Subcommittee:
- “I attended a small meeting in Baltimore, run by the National Socialist Movement and a group called SS Action. I heard the same rhetoric there. They told us to join law enforcement, so that we can give Blacks felonies. So that they wouldn’t be able to legally arm themselves. So that they wouldn’t be able to vote.”