The extent to which white supremacists have infiltrated America’s law enforcement was made disturbingly clear on Thursday when a photograph showing an entire basic training class of the West Virginia Department of Corrections all performing the Nazi “Sieg heil” salute went viral on social media.
BREAKING: Photo released that has led to numerous DOC employees being suspended pic.twitter.com/Lee98ldVl2
— Leslie Rubin (@LeslieRubinWCHS) December 5, 2019
Local ABC affiliate WHCS reports that numerous West Virginia DOC employees have been suspended as Governor Jim Justice demands to see heads roll over the appallingly hateful display by the ostensible protectors of their communities.
“I condemn the photo of Basic Training Class #18 in the strongest possible terms. I have directed Secretary Jeff Sandy of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to continue actively investigating this incident and I have ordered the termination of all those that are found to be involved in this conduct. This will not be tolerated on my watch – within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation – or within any agency of state government” said Justice in a statement.
As the frequency of white supremacist violence in the United States skyrockets under the Trump presidency, it is incredibly disturbing to learn how deeply sympathy for white supremacist runs in American law enforcement agencies.
Beyond the decades-old warnings from the FBI, the evidence is abundant; one only has to look at the photographs of Charlottesville police posing for photos with white supremacists, or peek behind the curtain into the racist Facebook groups where hundreds of police officers share pro-Confederate memes.
charlottesville police department announced another huge batch of promotions today, including this fine young man who exemplified the order to protect & serve (white supremacists) https://t.co/YZRyvQfVgO
— molly conger (@socialistdogmom) May 2, 2019
When you see the NYPD turn the other cheek as white nationalists beat up protestors in the street, watch any of the hundreds of viral videos showing police officers abusing people of color, or read the reports about how the FBI was more interested in monitoring “black identity groups” than tracking neo-Nazis, it’s clear that the enemy hides in their ranks.
In the age of Trump, policing and the veneration of cops is a central part of the right-wing’s fascistic appeal to a terrified white constituency threatened by the prospect of demographic change. It assures them that the instruments of state violence are fully under their control and the mechanisms of the white supremacist order will continue to function.
It should come as no surprise that as white nationalist ideas are promoted in public discourse by the White House and white supremacist violence increases, white supremacists in law enforcement are exposing themselves with a similar boldness.
There is a foul rot at the heart of American policing that has existed since its very beginning as slave patrols and union-busters, and that will not change until we begin to take responsibility, demand real accountability, and begin to pick the bad apples out of the barrel.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.