Hundreds of cops are active members of racist, misogynist, and transphobic online groups, reveals investigation
Hundreds of law enforcement officers, both retired and working, are members of offensive Facebook groups that celebrate anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and encourage hate.
The US police forces have, however, failed to dismiss these officers who make a majority in the profession. Online hatemongering experts believe the system has become filled with white supremacists and misogynists.
Approximately 400 profiles of cops that have worked in jails, schools, airports, on boats and trains, were verified to belong to the groups, according to Reveal, a nationally broadcast public radio show and investigative reporting podcast. Some of these groups share Islamophobic memes and even express anti-immigration sentiments.
Out of these officers, 150 were found to be members of 'violent anti-government' Facebook groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. At least 120 of the profiles were also discovered to be actively posting such sentiments.
Researchers even got 14,000 hits for law enforcement staff who were members of these hate groups but weren't able to verify all of them, Daily Mail reports.
Will Weisenberger, a sheriff's deputy from Madison County, Mississippi, was a member of a closed Facebook group called 'White Lives Matter'. When questioned about punching a handcuffed black man in the face, he admitted that he "may have used the N-word."
Lt. Richard Moravec of Chicago was a member of another closed Facebook group called 'Any Islamist insults infidels, I will put him under my feet'. Moravec once reportedly posted a meme of a young girl with the text: "Please! Don't confuse me. I'm a girl. Don't teach me to question if I'm a boy, transexual, transgendered, intersexed or two spirited."
Joel Quinn, who works in the Abbeville Police Department in Georgia, was found to be a member of a Confederate group and he also posted conspiracy theories and anti-Islam ideology on his personal Facebook account.
Over a Facebook message, he told Reveal: "It's also my responsibility to detect possible threats to my community all the way up to and including my country. Think about this, majority of crimes are committed by minorities (black, hispanic, etc) per FBI statistics, yet I don't 'prey' on any particular one."
The Anti-SJW Pinochet's Helicopter Pilot Academy group believes in throwing social justice warriors—people who support equal right—from helicopters in the style of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Six cops—including retired Baltimore corrections officer Perry Tolliver and former Arizona Department of Corrections officer Michael Pinegar—were members of the group, discovered Reveal. The two of them allegedly used the 'dindus' slur while referring to African American people online. Also, in the same group, detective Steve Fumuso from Westchester County in New York has allegedly belittled African Americans, Latinos and the LGBTQ community.
Wisconsin Department of Corrections officer Sheldon Best once commented on a post about babies of color saying: "Maybe, but minority on minority homocide (sic) will make sure adults of color remain a minority." Lonnie Allen Brown of the Kingsville Police Department in Texas, once posted a photo of a black man with a gun to his head. The text read: "If Black lives really mattered... They'd stop shooting each other!' He also shared an image that stated: 'Islam. A cult of oppression, rape, pedophilia and murder cannot be reasoned with!"
The Friday Reveal report states that even though 50 police departments said they'd launch investigations into whether these officers practiced the same beliefs in their current policing, only one cop has been fired so far.
Detective James 'J.T.' Thomas of Harris County Sheriff's Office in Houston, Texas was in the closed Facebook group 'The White Privilege Club'. From offensive memes stereotyping African Americans to sharing invites for events like Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where a woman was run over and killed, the group posts had it all.
"These policies state that an employee's actions must never bring the HCSO into disrepute, nor should conduct be detrimental to the HCSO's efficient operation. Personnel who, through their use of social media, cause undue embarrassment or damage the reputation of, or erode the public's confidence in, the HCSO shall be deemed to have violated this policy and shall be subject to counseling and/or discipline," the department said.
Thomas claimed that he didn't realize he was affiliated with hate groups online, which Reveal thinks might be true in some of the cases.
Because the departments are slow at taking action against the officers named, Megan Squire, a computer science professor from Elon University in North Carolina, told Reveal: "Charlottesville was planned on Facebook. Extremists are definitely using Facebook groups to plan physical, real-world events or just to make their lives a little smaller, to find friends."
Sociologist, Peter Simi, told Reveal: "Leaders have long been advocating for infiltration of society — graduate from high school, go to college, join the military, become a police officer, become a school teacher — get inside the system. That's why it's so difficult to get a handle on the scope of this, because the purpose for those who are infiltrating these systems is to be careful not to tip their hands. So we're always dealing with the tip of the iceberg."