New Report Estimates 400 Current And Former Police Officers Are Members Of Facebook Hate Groups
To many people, the report findings only proved pre-existing concerns.
June 15, 2019 at 2:21 pm
A new report revealed nearly 400 former and current police officers around the country are part of hate groups on Facebook.
The report from Reveal News indicates that several of the 400 officers found were part of groups deemed anti-semitic, anti-government or openly racist. For example, a prison guard working Angola prison in Louisiana, identified as Geoffery Crosby, is believed to be a member of 56 extremist groups.
The total number includes 45 pro-Confederate groups and another called “BAN THE NAACP.” Officers included in the report held various ranks and came from every corner of the country, but only one officer was fired due to the data presented. Some were part of high-profile groups like the anti-government, pro-gun Oath Keepers.
Two high-ranking officers were part of pro-white Facebook groups that aimed at peddling racist ideology. James "J.T." Thomas was a detective at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston and a member of the closed Facebook group “The White Privilege Club.”
Reveal News found the group contained interviews with white supremacist figureheads like Richard Spencer. There were a number of event invites to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville — a two-day clash in 2017, resulting in the death of Heather Heyer. Memes featuring Pepe the Frog were used to galvanize “white people, [to] do something.”
Essentially, the group served as a digital meeting place for white people to unload on Black people and ignite violence. Another example of such beliefs was captured in a photo of fried chicken and grape soda captioned: “Mom packed me a n*ggable for school.”
An officer from Madison County, Mississippi was found to be a member of a “White Lives Matter” Facebook group. The officer used the group to confess to police brutality and racial bias. He reportedly admitted to using the “N-word” and assaulting a handcuffed Black man.
In another case, an unnamed Chicago lieutenant was discovered to be a member of “Any Islamist insults infidels, I will put him under my feet.” An internal investigation found the officer was accused of at least 70 instances of “illegal use of force, verbal abuse and criminal misconduct” while on duty.
According to The Verge, Reveal News created two lists to help them locate the officers. One was a list of members in extremist groups and the second was a list of members of police groups. Then, Reveal wrote software to compare the data in 2018.
"[We ran the] two datasets against each other to find users who were members of at least one law enforcement group and one far-right group … We got 14,000 hits."
Ultimately, the data and findings were presented to the departments, resulting in approximately 50 investigations and one firing. Reveal News' report confirms an FBI report from three years ago, stating white supremacists have continually infiltrated local police departments.