Thursday, June 25, 2020

Police Have A Racist Far-Right Social Media Ecosystem Of Their Own


HuffPost | American police officers have already been tied to the spread of extremist content on social media. A Reveal News investigation last June found that hundreds of active-duty and retired officers, from every level of U.S. law enforcement, had quietly joined private Confederate, anti-Islam, misogynistic or anti-government militia Facebook groups full of racist memes and conspiracy theories.

The investigation was a rare glimpse at the culture behind the blue wall. As Reveal News noted, disciplinary records and investigations into police misconduct “are kept secret in a majority of states, meaning most American cops enjoy a blanket of protection that can cover up biases.”
But the recent unrest has provoked some law enforcement officials to openly broadcast their tolerance for police misconduct online, outside of these closed or little-known groups. In a Facebook post earlier this month, the Brevard County, Florida, chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police offered to rehire police officers from other areas who are charged with using excessive force against protesters.
“Lower taxes, no spineless leadership, or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences,” promised the now-deleted Facebook post, for which Brevard County FOP President Bert Gamin has claimed responsibility. “Plus.... we got your back!”
Certainly not all police officers believe the wild stories pushed by Law Enforcement Today and circulated on pro-police social media groups. But right-wing media and many police labor leaders are heavily invested in the idea of presenting police as hard-right defenders of law and order. 
Outlets such as Fox News and OAN often provide a safe space for former officers and labor officials to defend law enforcement’s conduct without challenge. One such voice has been police union leader Ed Mullins, head of the NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, who in February announced the NYPD was “declaring war” on de Blasio and accused the mayor of fomenting anti-cop sentiment. Mullins has recently appeared on Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity’s shows, as well as far-right outlets Newsmax and OAN, where he called for military support to quell the protests.
Levin, from the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, said police and city officials nationwide need to pay attention to what some cops are reading and writing online, and get a handle on it.
“We can’t have that in policing today,” he said. “We’re now in an era where police are so detached from many segments of the community that they serve that we don’t have the luxury of having this kind of garbage being tolerated within departments.”