White supremacists are infiltrating the police departments across the country according to a report by the FBI. The report is alarming in the Trump era, as white nationalists across the country are feeling emboldened and only build on a long history of domestic terrorist groups joining law enforcement.
A classified FBI Counter Terrorism Policy Guide from April 2015 was just obtained by The Intercept and revealed that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.”
To those studying law enforcement in the US this is nothing new; however, the FBI is doing little to publicly address this growing threat. Many police departments around the nation have a history of racism in their ranks, and with no national standard among the nearly 2,000 law enforcement agencies, white nationalists have little trouble infiltrating the ranks and spreading their influence.
These white supremacists have “taken off their white hats and white-sheeted robes and put on police uniforms. Some of them have put on shirts and ties as policymakers and some of them have put on robes as judges,” said Angelia Williams Graves, a Virginia councilwoman,at a NAACP luncheon last October.
This has sparked many black activists to respond, even pushing some to become involved in law enforcement in order to enact change from within.
“I know I could never change the condition from the outside. I had to go for the inside,” Col. K.L. Williams, the Black chief of police in Kinloch, Mo., told CNN. “If you think that racism and white supremacy is not involved in police departments, you better check yourself. Because the KKK has been involved with law enforcement from when it just about started,” he continued.
The problem of these modern day racists gaining access to law enforcement predates Trump by nearly a decade, showing just how serious the problem really is.
A 2006 report by the FBI found that the “intelligence acquired through the successful infiltration of law enforcement by one white supremacist group can benefit other groups due to the multiple allegiances white supremacists typically hold.” It also found that the recruitment and infiltration by these groups also poses a serious risk to law enforcement personnel and sources.
These extremist groups are also found to be some of the most dangerous in the country. The Department of Homeland Security found that “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”
The report also found that “right-wing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African-American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda,” and that “disgruntled military veterans” were likely going to be targeted for recruitment. “Right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.”
Over the last decade, white nationalist groups have felt it necessary to return to the Jim Crow-era tactic of slipping KKK members into the police ranks, especially after the election of America’s first black president. Now, with the election of Trump and an accused racist like Attorney General Jeff Sessions being confirmed, they feel emboldened to increase those numbers even more.
While the KKK and other groups certainly have a history of joining law enforcement in the early days after the Civil War and through the Jim Crow era in the Southern States, it seems this is a practice that never actually stopped. With the election of Obama in 2008, these groups seem to have escalated their tactics and with Trump in office, feel they can do even more, especially with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an accused racist himself, now being confirmed.
Immediately after his confirmation, former Imperial Wizard of the KKK, David Duke tweeted: “Thank God after 8 horrible years of black radical Marxists we finally have an AG who will defend decent American people – rather than thugs.”
Duke then welcomed back “law and order” before again tweeting that: “After 8 years of Holder and Lynch radicalism – an Attorney General defending the law-abiding people rather than criminals, thugs & illegals!”
With Sessions’ confirmation, it is unlikely the Department of Justice will investigate the rise of white nationalists in the police force, and the risk of the problem growing becomes a real possibility.
Dan Arel is a bestselling author of The Secular Activist; and Parenting Without God. He is an award-winning journalist and host of the Danthropology Podcast.