I was recently reading Max Feller-Kantor’s new book Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD. It’s a deeply disturbing history of the Los Angeles Police Department bookended with Watts and the Rodney King beating and post-acquittal riots. It’s hard to read this and come away with any conclusion other than many police departments are simply rotten to the core, filled with open racists who see black and brown youth as inherently criminal and who can only be controlled through violence. Combine that with a insular clannish culture of protecting the worst cops and leadership that refuses to admit than the police could ever do anything wrong and you have an intractable situation. There is so much great work coming out on racism and the police these days, including that by Kelly Lytle Hernandez and of course LGM’s own Simon Balto. I think most liberal whites really have no clue just how bad policing is in communities of color, then and now. Reading these books is a great way to start.
The testimony of a California police officer leading the inquiry into a series of stabbings at a neo-Nazi rally indicated that he targeted leftwing activists and victims rather than focusing his investigation on armed white supremacists.
The officer, Donovan Ayres, a 12-year-veteran of the California highway patrol, admitted he pursued information on the political affiliations and online activity of leftwing activists and victims. He testified Tuesday as a key witness in the state’s ongoing case against three anti-fascist activists charged with assault and “rioting” during a brawl between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters at the state capitol in June 2016.
Ayres was tasked with investigating the violence that erupted at the event, including the stabbing and beating of at least eight anti-fascist protesters. But his testimony in a packed courtroom earlier this week, along with hundreds of pages of reports he wrote, have revealed the officer’s acquiescence to the neo-Nazis and the way he repeatedly advocated they not face any criminal consequences.
Ayres told the court that he filed a search warrant to access the Facebook accounts of the leftist protesters and anti-fascists, but chose not to seek equivalent information about neo-Nazi suspects – an extraordinary move for a law enforcement leader investigating far-right violence. He also resisted describing the political affiliations of individual men on the neo-Nazi side.
“It’s extremely troubling that a police officer wouldn’t [seek] to get all the information available about all the actors involved in the violent episode,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent and expert on the far right who reviewed some of Ayres’ documents for the Guardian. “Law enforcement should always look at who has a history of violence … The victims of the most egregious violence were counter-protesters.”
The CHP and the prosecutors declined the Guardian’s request for a comment. Officer Ayres did not respond to multiple inquiries.
The entire article is well worth your time, getting into this guy’s completely off the chain characterization of left-wing activists combined with his apologizing for white supremacist groups. All of this leads me to something I’ve been wondering for a long time, which is just how many open white supremacists are in law enforcement. Are there organized efforts to salt law enforcement agencies with fascists and racists by white supremacist groups? I very much including ICE and CBP in this. What better job for a racist than playing an active role in ethnic cleansing? I would bet there are a lot more people in law enforcement with active white supremacist ties than I even think and that those numbers have risen since 2016.
Policing and the violent suppression of people of color is one of the most intractable and serious problems in the United States. And yet it remains a minor part of American electoral politics, though the rise of the abolition of cash bail as a more widely held position is at least a step in the right direction.