Justice

The Scary FBI Prediction About White Supremacists That Came True

February 2nd 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

New information leaked from the FBI suggests that a 2006 prediction about white supremacist groups has now come true; white supremacists and other domestic extremists are "active" in law enforcement. However, one civil rights activist told ATTN: that new information may not represent the biggest problem facing police departments.

A policewoman.

The Intercept's Alice Speri obtained a secret 2015 internal document from the FBI, which reveals that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers."

The document obtained by Speri confirms a fear outlined in a 2006 FBI document titled "White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement," which deemed hate groups' interest in police departments a "concern" because they can gain access to "restricted areas vulnerable to sabotage and to elected officials or protected persons, whom they could see as potential targets for violence."

A 2006 FBI document about white supremacists.

The 2006 document also noted that white supremacist groups have "historically" tried to join and recruit from law enforcement, however the redacted version did not include specific threats or confirmation that these groups had members in police departments.

Concerning as the 2015 reports may be, civil rights activists see the problem from a different perspective.

Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Fellow Mark Potok told ATTN: that infiltration of police departments by members of white supremacist groups is actually less of an active concern than the mainstreaming of radical, white supremacist views.

Potok said, based on SPLC's monitoring of media reports, white supremacist groups' infiltration into law enforcement agencies is probably at historically low levels,

"I'm not denying this happens from time to time, but this used to be absolutely normal and there used to be Klan officials from North to South in police departments," he said. "That is not true anymore."

ku-klux-klan

Potok said the number of organized group members in extremist hate groups like the KKK have actually declined. There are between 5,000 and 8,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan today but there were about 40,000 in the civil rights era.

kkk

While we don't know how many members of law enforcement are tied to white supremacist organizations, Department of Justice investigations into troubled police departments have had disturbing results.

In March of 2015, the DOJ released a report about Ferguson, Missouri's police department, the city where Michael Brown was controversially shot and killed by a police officer. Investigators found that the police department showed a "pattern or practice of racial bias."

The results of a 14-month investigation about the Baltimore Police Department found racial bias and unconstitutional arrests.

"BPD makes stops, searches and arrests without the required justification; uses enforcement strategies that unlawfully subject African Americans to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests; uses excessive force; and retaliates against individuals for their constitutionally-protected expression," read the August 2016 DOJ press release.

A 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department released last month found that officers routinely used excessive force and targeted blacks and Latinos, and made racially inflammatory social media posts.

The number of Americans with radical right-wing views, who are not necessarily tied to an organization, seem to be rising as well.

"What is happening, is without question, the radical right has gotten bigger," said Potok. He said that the current political discourse is filled with extremist right-wing ideas.

"We've never seen radical right wing politics in the political mainstream in the way we're seeing right now," he said. "In 50 years since George Wallace ran in '68, that was the last time something like this happened." Wallace ran on a racial segregation platform.

dylann-roof

Potok also pointed to the example of Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine people in a black church in South Carolina.

"Dylann roof was never a member of any hate group and really never communicated with anyone," he said. "We're seeing people who are just reading things on the internet."

ATTN: previously reported that Twitter users who support white nationalism overtook Islamic State sympathizers in terms of overall activity.

"On Twitter, ISIS’s preferred social platform, American white nationalist movements have seen their followers grow by more than 600% since 2012," J.M. Berger, a fellow at GWU's Program on Extremism and the author of "Nazis vs. ISIS on Twitter," wrote in his September 2016 report. "Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day."

RELATED: There's Another Dangerous Group With More Twitter Followers Than ISIS