A year-long investigation of private Facebook hate groups by REVEAL finds close to 400 current and retired law enforcement officers are members, including officers from small towns as well as big cities — including NYPD.
One guard at the Angola prison in Louisiana, Geoffery Crosby, was a member of 56 extremist groups, including 45 Confederate groups and one called “BAN THE NAACP.”
A detective at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, James “J.T.” Thomas, was a member of the closed Facebook group “The White Privilege Club.”
“One cop was fired before we even published,” writes Reveal’s Aura Bogado.
Inside these Facebook hate groups, which require the approval of a doorkeeper “administrator” before one can become a member, active duty and retired police officers are swapping memes and jokes in Confederate, anti-Islam, anti-queer, anti-women, and anti-government militia communities.
These cops have worked at every level of American law enforcement, from tiny, rural sheriff’s departments to the largest agencies in the country, such as the Los Angeles and New York police departments. They work in jails and schools and airports, on boats and trains and in patrol cars. And, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting discovered, they also read and contribute to groups such as “White Lives Matter” and “DEATH TO ISLAM UNDERCOVER.”
The groups cover a range of extremist ideologies. Some present themselves publicly as being dedicated to benign historical discussion of the Confederacy, but are replete with racism inside. Some trade in anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant memes. Some are openly Islamophobic. And almost 150 of the officers we found are involved with violent anti-government groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.
More than 50 departments launched internal investigations after being presented with our findings, in some cases saying they would examine officers’ past conduct to see if their online activity mirrored their policing in real life. And some departments have taken action, with at least one officer being fired for violating department policies.
To protect and slur:
Inside hate groups on Facebook, police officers trade racist memes, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia.
Will Carless can be reached at email@example.com, and Michael Corey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Carless on Twitter: @willcarless.
[GIF courtesy REVEALNEWS.org]