WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, sent letters to eight police departments and sheriffs’ offices across the country seeking information about their efforts over the past year to address allegations that multiple law enforcement officers kept social media accounts that expressed violent, racist, or white supremacist views.
“At a time when most Americans are supporting Black Lives Matter in the movement to stop abuse of the rights of African-Americans, racist and violent-themed social media postings by law enforcement officers erode the public’s trust and undermine police-civilian relations,” said Chairman Raskin. “Law enforcement must have the trust of communities of color in order to protect and serve all of our people.”
In June 2019, Injustice Watch and BuzzFeed News published the Plain View Project, a multiyear investigation into instances of bigoted or white supremacist comments by law enforcement officers. The Project revealed that hundreds of officers published Facebook posts that potentially violated the social media policy of their departments, including the following personnel:
- At the Philadelphia Police Department, nearly 330 current and 175 former officers;
- At the Dallas Police Department, 109 current and 60 former officers;
- At the St. Louis Police Department, 43 current and former officers;
- At the Phoenix Police Department, 72 current and at least 25 former officers;
- At the Denison Police Department, at least four current and former officers;
- At the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, at least 16 current and former deputies and corrections officers;
- At the Twin Falls Police Department, three current and former officers; and
- At the York City Police Department, three current officers.
These current and former officers were responsible for thousands of Facebook posts displaying and promoting violence, xenophobia, and racism. Some of the officers reportedly wrote anti-Black and anti-Muslim posts and comments and others advocated violence against people in the community.
“America has witnessed numerous traumatic episodes of police killing unarmed African-American civilians as well as white supremacist violence being waged against both civil rights protesters and law enforcement officers. The explosion of race hatred and violence in America makes it clear that the law enforcement community must aggressively work to counter the infiltration of racism and bigotry within its own ranks,” added Chairman Raskin.
Chairman Raskin sent these letters in advance of his remote hearing, “Confronting Violent White Supremacy (Part IV): White Supremacy in Blue—The Infiltration of Local Police Departments.”
The hearing will examine this pervasive problem and examine actions that the federal government must take, such as passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, to rid law enforcement communities of officers who have white supremacist affiliations or subscribe to white supremacist beliefs.
Click here to read the letters to law enforcement leaders.