Los Angeles, Ca — In 1991, a neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang was terrorizing the streets of Lynwood in Los Angeles County. The reason these violent thugs could run amok was because they were deputies at the Lynwood Sheriff’s station, having the power of blue privilege.
A federal judge acknowledged that the gang of deputies carried out “systematic acts of shooting, killing, brutality, terrorism, house-trashing and other acts of lawlessness and wanton abuse of power.”
These maniacs were not the sudden appearance of a unique group of individuals among law enforcement, but the progeny of a decades-long effort by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to infiltrate police departments wherever possible.
That’s why it is so difficult to believe the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) when it said on Tuesday that there was no racial profiling in any of the 1,365 allegations leveled against the department from 2012 to 2014.
“I don’t think anybody believes that there are actually no incidents of biased policing,” said Matt Johnson, president of the Police Commission panel. “The problem is we don’t have an effective way of really adjudicating the issue.”
“While no doubt the vast majority of LAPD officers do not engage in biased policing, it strains credibility to suggest that … there were zero instances of biased policing,” said commissioner Robert Saltzman. “It should not be surprising that there is diminished trust in the LAPD given these results.”
The LAPD seems to think that the influence of neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups is a thing of the past.
A Florida deputy police chief was exposed as a member of the KKK last year, and no criminal wrongdoing was found as he resigned. In September, a Louisiana police detective was caught in a photo giving a Nazi salute at a KKK rally. An Alabama police officer recently spoke at a League of the South rally.
While the South has been fertile ground for racist groups, the KKK has penetrated many police departments around the country, as evidenced by the Lynwood horror.
Larissa Moore and four of her law school colleagues performed an investigation of unsolved civil rights murders from 1946 to 1969, under a Syracuse University program, and confirmed an ugly truth.
During the Civil Rights movement, one of the KKK’s first orders was to infiltrate police departments, “because the laws don’t apply to them if they are the law,” according to Moore.
This echoes an FBI statement in 2006 that white supremacist groups “have historically engaged in strategic efforts to infiltrate and recruit from law enforcement communities.” The federal agency’s concern seems to be selfish, though, as it stated that the hate group’s actions cause “investigative breaches and can jeopardize the safety of law enforcement sources and personnel.”
So far, the FBI has not reviewed any of the 37 cases sent to them from the program in which Moore is involved—The Cold Case Justice Initiative. Since the purview expires in 2017, there seems to be little chance that the FBI will take meaningful action.
“We have discovered hundreds of killings that aren’t on the FBI’s list that no one’s ever done a full accounting of all the people who have been killed either by Klan or by suspicious police shootings,” said Janis McDonald, a law professor at Syracuse University who co-founded CCJI with law professor Paula Johnson.
The government’s disinterest here mirrors a wider problem in law enforcement at all levels. Cops continue to inflict most of their brutality on minority groups, especially blacks. African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the population, yet they are the victims in 26 percent of all police shootings. A young black male is 3 times more likely to be killed by a cop than their white counterparts. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Tamir Rice are just a few of the recent examples.
The injustice of the drug war also falls most heavily on minorities. “More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities” and “two-thirds of all persons in prison for drug offenses are people of color.”
Clearly, the KKK has had success in establishing a culture within not only police departments but the entire “criminal justice system.” With departments like the LAPD continuing to pretend that racism does not motivate any of its officers, it will be difficult to know just how far the disease of white supremacy has spread into law enforcement.