Police, soldiers bring lethal skill to militia campaigns against US government

“Thousands of police and soldiers – people professionally trained in the use of violence and familiar with military protocols – are part of an extremist effort to undermine the U.S. government and subvert the democratic process.

According to an investigative report published in the Atlantic in November into a leaked database kept by the Oath Keepers – one of several far-right and white supremacist militias that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 – 10% of Oath Keepers are current police officers or military members. Another significant portion of the group’s membership is retired military and law enforcement personnel.”

“The Three Percenters, another militia present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, also draws a substantial portion of its members from law enforcement, both military and civilian. Larry Brock, a pro-Trump rioter arrested with zip-tie handcuffs, allegedly for taking hostages, is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who posted content from the Three Percenters online.”

“Far-right elements have always had some presence in U.S. security forces.

Throughout the 20th century, many local police departments were heavily populated with Ku Klux Klan members. The connections between terror groups and law enforcement enabled discrimination and violence against African Americans, Jews and other minorities.

In 1923, all the Black residents of Blandford, Indiana were forced out of town to an unknown location following accusations that an African American man assaulted a young girl. The unlawful “deportation” was conducted and organized by the local sheriff, a Klansman, with the assistance of local Klan chapters.

Many U.S. military bases have also had cells of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups throughout the 20th century.

In 1995, three paratroopers from Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, were arrested and charged in the killing of a Black couple in Fayetteville. Two were sentenced to life in prison for the murders. The Army initiated an investigation at the base, which was known for being a hub of the National Alliance, then the country’s most influential American neo-Nazi group.

The Army identified and discharged 19 paratroopers for participating in hate activities. One went on to kill six worshipers in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in August 2012. He died in a police shootout.”

“The militias’ success secretly infiltrating police departments contributed to the emergence of new far-right associations that openly recruit law enforcement, like the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers of America.

Founded in 2011 by former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, the group promotes the notion – contrary to the Constitution – that the federal government authorities should be subordinated to local law enforcement. It has more than 500 sheriffs nationwide. Just over half are currently in office.

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers of America has pushed its members not to enforce gun control laws and pandemic-related mask regulations that they believe infringe on civil liberties.”

No, Police Officers Aren’t Resigning in Droves

“In an attempt to push back at the anger over violent police conduct and efforts to reform policing in America, we’ve been warned that all this outrage is damaging police morale, causing officers to quit and recruiting to plunge, possibly contributing to 2020’s spike in homicides and gun violence.

A survey released in July by the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) found what they called a “widespread staffing crisis,” declaring a dramatic 45 percent increase in retirements between 2019 and 2020 and an 18 percent increase in resignations.”

“The survey actually presents it as a more complex matter. Some of the quotes from the departments they’ve surveyed suggest that officers were retiring as soon as they could because they didn’t want to deal with the policing conflicts, but other quotes indicated other reasons and one mentioned “pandemic fatigue.” Some departments insisted that everything was fine, while others indicated that the problem was not with who they were losing, but with difficulty recruiting new officers.

A lot of people quit, retired, or lost their jobs during the pandemic. So this doesn’t really tell us much about increases in police resignations and retirements compared to other fields; we don’t have enough evidence to indicate that it’s a morale issue connected to demands for policing reform.

Once we actually do put the losses in the context of all other industries, the reality becomes clear: We actually have not seen a massive decline in the number of police compared to drops in employment in other fields. Over at The Marshall Project, reporters looked at the actual numbers coming out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In reality, police employment has been fairly stable, losing less than 1 percent—4,000 jobs—during 2020.

The losses actually followed several years of expanded police job growth, essentially returning it back to numbers from just a couple of years ago.”

Police Broke This 73-Year-Old Woman’s Arm During a Brutal Arrest. The City Will Pay Her $3 Million.

“Additional video shows three cops—Hopp, Jalia, and Tyler Blackett—watching the footage the day they booked Garner.

“Ready for the pop?” asks Hopp, as Jalia squirms and appears visibly uncomfortable. “Hear the pop?”

“What’d you pop?” asks Blackett. “I think it was her shoulder,” responds Hopp, as he re-enacts the motion.

“I hate it,” says Jalia.

“I love it,” one of the male officers responds. Garner did not receive medical care for six hours after the ordeal, according to the suit. (Blackett later resigned.)

Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer has claimed that the department was unaware of the extent of the brutality until the lawsuit became public, but the contents of an internal report released yesterday appear to directly contradict that, with documents showing that Assistant Chief of Police Ray Butler viewed the footage and said that Hopp’s actions were “necessary, reasonable and within policy.”

“There is no excuse, under any circumstances, for what happened to Ms. Garner. We have agreed on steps we need to take to begin building back trust,” Ticer said in a statement. “While these actions won’t change what Ms. Garner experienced, they will serve to improve this police department and hopefully restore faith that the LPD exists to serve those who live in and visit Loveland.” He also said that department policy now requires an assistant city attorney and personnel from city of Loveland human resources to review use of force incidents, as opposed to just a member of the police force. Sarah Schielke, an attorney for the family, has called for his resignation.”

Federal Grants Brought the Equipment of the War on Terror Home to American Police Departments

“Today, police departments across the country are using more than $1 billion in surplus military equipment handed out since 9/11. A study released last year by Brown University’s Costs of War project found that the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which offers free surplus military equipment to police departments, has transferred at least $1.6 billion worth of equipment to departments across the country since 9/11, compared to just $27 million before the attacks.

That equipment includes mine-resistant, armored-protective vehicles, or MRAPs—armored personnel carriers designed to survive bomb blasts on the roads of Iraq and Afghanistan. The study found 1,114 MRAPs currently in the possession of American police departments.

And the 1033 program is dwarfed by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants to cities and states. Bloomberg reported last year that states and metro areas have received $24.3 billion since 2003 from two DHS programs, the State Homeland Security Program and the Urban Areas Security Initiative.”

Police Shot a Man Driving Away, Can’t Keep Their Stories Straight, Get Qualified Immunity Anyway

“Police violated the constitutional rights of an Alabama man when they repeatedly shot at his car, first as he inched forward in it nonthreateningly and then as he drove away, hitting him either five or six times and requiring that he receive emergency surgery, a federal court ruled last week.

The same panel found that the officers are entitled to qualified immunity and thus cannot be sued in connection with the incident. The legal doctrine allows state actors to violate your rights without fear of civil liability if the exact manner in which they misbehaved has not been declared unconstitutional in a preexisting court precedent. (A practical example: Two cops in Fresno, California, allegedly pocketed $225,000 while executing a search warrant, but the victims were not permitted to sue because no ruling on the books said that stealing under those precise circumstances is a violation of someone’s rights.)”

Colorado Police Officer Sued for ‘Recklessly’ Shooting Family Dog

“Body camera footage released along with the lawsuit shows Grashorn stepping out of his police cruiser. Love and Hamm’s other dog, Bubba, is sleeping on the ground but gets up and begins running toward the officer. Grashorn draws his gun on the dog, but the couple yells at the animal to come back. It pauses and turns toward its owners, but Herkimer jumps out of the truck and lopes toward Grashorn with its tail wagging. Grashorn shoots the dog. (The audio is not captured by the body camera, which retains 30 seconds of footage before it is turned on, but not sound.)”

“After the shooting, Grashorn refused to allow the distraught couple near Herkimer, ordering them to go back to their truck. When Hamm demanded to know why Grashorn had shot the dog, Grashorn yelled that he had “no way of knowing” whether Herkimer was friendly and that he “wasn’t in the business to get bit.”

The lawsuit says that Loveland police refused to let the couple retrieve their dog and take it to a veterinarian until a Loveland police supervisor arrived on the scene. Hamm was ticketed for having a “dangerous dog.” The ticket was later dismissed by the district attorney.

Herkimer died four days after being shot. An internal review by the Loveland Police Department found the shooting was justified.”

“Reason has been covering sad incidents of “puppycide” like Herkimer’s for decades now. In 2019, a Faulkner County, Arkansas, sheriff’s deputy was fired and charged with animal cruelty after he casually shot a small dog because the owner refused to walk outside to talk to him. The shootings lead not only to devastated families and viral news stories, but expensive lawsuit settlements for cities. In 2019, St. Louis paid $775,000 to a woman whose dog was shot during a no-knock SWAT raid over an unpaid gas bill. The Detroit Police Department has settled a string of lawsuits for shooting dogs during drug raids.”

Biden’s Justice Department Goes After Police Misconduct

“One of Sessions’ final moves in office was to sharply limit when the Justice Department could enter into consent decrees. Vanita Gupta, who ran the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, called that policy “a slap in the face to the dedicated career staff of the department who work tirelessly to enforce our nation’s civil rights laws.” The Biden administration rolled back Sessions’ directive, and Gupta is now back at the Justice Department as an associate attorney general.

Sessions was correct that consent decrees should be used judiciously. Justice Department investigations and settlements are a heavy-handed imposition of federal authority. But they can also provide recourse for citizens who have been betrayed by rotten police departments and indifferent local governments.”

Texas Cops Realized They Raided the Wrong House. They Kept Searching Anyway.

“In November of 2018, Lucil Basco of Bexar County, Texas, awoke to a thunderous boom, followed by a parade of eight cops barging through her front door. She was handcuffed, and, with her screaming child, removed from the premises. The officers soon realized they made a mistake: They had the wrong house, based on incorrect information from a confidential informant. Yet they continued the operation anyway.”

“Deputies arrived and broke into Basco’s home that evening, despite there being no reason to believe such force was required. Though it appears they did not do the requisite research to confirm she was involved in the drug trade, they did conduct plenty of surveillance: “Officers conducted a traffic stop of Mrs. Basco shortly before the raid during which they searched her vehicle and learned that she is a nurse,” writes Pulliam. “And officers were surveilling the home both when Mrs. Basco left to collect her child and when she returned with him.””

“It is not uncommon for police departments to leverage confidential sources to carry out violent, no-knock raids. The Chicago Police Department, for example, is well-known for its so-called John Doe warrants, based solely on anonymous tips.

In 2019, a cadre of male cops knocked down the door to a Chicago apartment, handcuffing a naked woman while they ransacked her home. The officers elicited nearly 100 misconduct allegations during that one raid because they had the wrong address and had not bothered to do rudimentary verification beforehand. The city has a pile of similar suits.”

A Federal Cop Devised a Bogus Sex Trafficking Ring and Jailed This Teen for 2 Years. The Cop Can’t Be Sued.

“For years, St. Paul police officer Heather Weyker was swamped. She gathered evidence, cultivated witnesses, filled out the police reports, testified under oath—all in connection with an interstate sex trafficking ring run by Somali refugees. But perhaps most impressive is that she did all that while fabricating the same ring she was investigating, which resulted in 30 indictments, 9 trials, and 0 convictions.

Hamdi Mohamud, then a 16-year-old refugee from Somalia, found herself caught up in that scheme in 2011, when one of Weyker’s witnesses, Muna Abdulkadir, tried to attack her and her friends at knifepoint. Mohamud called the police, and Weyker intervened—on behalf of Abdulkadir. She arrested Mohamud and her friends for allegedly tampering with a federal witness, and Mohamud subsequently spent two years in jail before the trumped-up charges were dismissed.

While Mohamud lost those two years of her life, Weyker has not paid any price—not in spite of her position, but because of it. Since the officer conducted her investigation as part of a federal task force, she is entitled to absolute immunity and cannot be sued, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled last year.”