Serve and protect whom? Alarming trends in law enforcement

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Battle lines have been drawn, and crossed:

A North Carolina police department supervisor has been disciplined after saying officers confronting demonstrators protesting George Floyd’s death in June were about to “hammer” them.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police sergeant was suspended for two weeks without pay after comments he made during the June 2 protest in which officers deployed tear gas, pepper balls and other chemical agents against largely peaceful demonstrators, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Bolding mine, because police departments are increasingly reversing the "cause & effect" formula in their approach to keeping the peace during protests. They are trying to gain the "upper hand" by using deceptive tactics, like concealing their numbers and then exploding into a "shock and awe" show of force. Which includes preemptive violence to discourage violence, the logic of which is questionable at best. On-the-ground supervisors (like the idiot above) are given more and more discretion so they can "adapt to changing conditions," but in order for that to work well, it requires integrity and intelligence all through the ranks. Which brings us to another (apparently not alarming enough) trend that should have been dealt with 16 years ago:

The FBI’s 2015 Counterterrorism Policy Directive and Policy Guide warns that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.” This alarming declaration followed a 2006 intelligence assessment, based on FBI investigations and open sources, that warned of “white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement . . . by organized groups and by self-initiated infiltration by law enforcement personnel sympathetic to white supremacist causes.” Active links between law enforcement officials and the subjects of any terrorism investigation should raise alarms within our national security establishment, but the federal government has not responded accordingly.

Any law enforcement officers associating with these groups should be treated as a matter of urgent concern. Operating under color of law, such officers put the lives and liberty of people of color, religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and anti-racist activists at extreme risk, both through the violence they can mete out directly and by their failure to properly respond when these communities are victimized by other racist violent crime. Biased policing also tears at the fabric of American society by undermining public trust in equal justice and the rule of law.

The FBI’s 2006 assessment, however, takes a narrower view. It claims that “the primary threat” posed by the infiltration or recruitment of police officers into white supremacist or other far-right militant groups “arises from the areas of intelligence collection and exploitation, which can lead to investigative breaches and can jeopardize the safety of law enforcement sources or personnel.” Though the FBI redacted significant passages of the assessment before releasing it to the public, the document does not appear to address any of the potential harms these bigoted officers pose to communities of color they police or to society at large. Rather, it identifies the main problem as a risk to the integrity of FBI investigations and the security of its agents and informants.

Just a side note: The creation of the Homeland Security superstructure was supposed to facilitate information between law enforcement and intelligence agencies, but not only has it failed (miserably) at that, it has given the individual elements like the FBI an excuse to ignore dangerous trends like the above. "Not our problem."

Public confidence in the fairness and responsibility of law enforcement is at an all-time low right now, and what is still happening in Kenosha is a prime example. Police not only allowed heavily-armed militia to patrol the streets, they actually thanked them. And now many of the protesters are arming themselves also, because they know the police will not protect them from lunatics like 17 year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, whose mom bought him an AR-15 and then drove him up to Kenosha, where he killed two of those protesters and injured another.

Back to the ineffectiveness of the FBI:

In a June 2019 hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) asked Michael McGarrity, the FBI’s assistant director for counterterrorism, whether the bureau remained concerned about white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement since the publication of the 2006 assessment. McGarrity indicated he had not read the 2006 assessment.

When asked more generally about the issue, McGarrity said he would be “suspect” of white supremacist police officers, but that their ideology was a First Amendment–protected right. The 2006 assessment addresses this concern, however, correctly summarizing Supreme Court precedent on the issue: “Although the First Amendment’s freedom of association provision protects an individual’s right to join white supremacist groups for the purposes of lawful activity, the government can limit the employment opportunities of group members who hold sensitive public sector jobs, including jobs within law enforcement, when their memberships would interfere with their duties.”

Until the FBI can be properly reformed and retasked (it will take more than the election of Biden to do this), it is up to local law enforcement, under the watchful eye of both municipal governments and the NC SBI, to purge their ranks of LEOs who espouse racist or other extreme viewpoints. Police unions should not fight this, but they probably will, which means they need to be reformed as well.

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Comments

Not sure if "whom" fits there,

but "who" didn't look right after I tilted my head to one side. Yes, that's one of my editing tools...

Whom for sure

It’s easy to get distracted by grammar in the face of such a crappy situation. I do it all the time.