AMERICAN POLICING THE KU KLUX KLAN AND “GHOST SKINS”

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[Book Excerpt #7\"The Roots of Racism in American Policing"]
A 2006 FBI intelligence assessment, noted that White supremacist groups had a “historical” goal in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.”
Photo: Facebook

"Ghost Skin" former Louisiana Detective Raymond Mott, on left, at KKK rally in 2014.

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book "The Roots of Racism in American Policing: From Slave Patrols to Stop-and-Frisk."

Over the next few weeks, the Black Star News will be publishing selected portions from the book. The following excerpt is from Chapter 2.

Besides southern sheriffs, there were other groups of unofficial oppression that African-Americans had to worry about. The Ku Klux Klan was arguably the most fearsome. Founded sometime around early 1866, it should be noted that the Klan originated in Pulaski, Tennessee. It was founded by former members of the Confederate Army—including Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who served as the first “grand wizard.”

The founding of the Klan, by Confederate soldiers, is important for several reasons. For one thing, it is obvious the goals of the Klan were largely in line with the aspirations of southern slaveholders and their gentry.

As such we should ask this question: wasn’t the original Klan really a sort of undercover police group—like plainclothes policemen, assuming you can forget about their hoods of hate and white sheets—whose objective was to terrorize African-Americans? Wasn’t their goal one the Slave Patrols\militias was once tasked with doing: harass and intimidate Blacks—something we still see in modern policing. Moreover, weren’t numerous police involved in both groups?

This might seem an outrageous statement to some. However, there are many recorded instances of sheriffs and Klan groups working in concert together.

There is also documentation showing sheriffs and deputies being directly involved in lynchings. This phenomenon is not something we can ignore by just calling it ancient history. Because, ironically, the current connections between police and white supremacists are now again being exposed.

Through FBI reports, we know White racists have been infiltrating and gaining employment in today’s police departments. We should not be too shocked by this. The KKK and police have been working together for a long time.

On October 1, 2016, at an NAACP luncheon in Virginia, Norfolk City Councilwoman Angelia Williams Graves ignited a firestorm of controversy when she told a gathering of a couple hundred people that modern KKK members had “taken off their white hats and white-sheeted robes and put on police uniforms. Some of them have put on shirts and ties as policymakers and some of them have put on robes as judges.

Councilwoman Williams was rebuked by members of law enforcement. However, her comments are rooted in reality—a reality even the FBI has acknowledged.

The FBI has reported that there is current active infiltration into police departments by white supremacist groups like the KKK. An October 2006 FBI intelligence assessment, noted that White supremacist groups had a “historical” goal in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” The report identified the term “Ghost Skins,” used to describe White supremacists “who avoid overt displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.

Moreover, the FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide from April 2015, found that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, White supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.”

These FBI reports occurred within the context of several cases of police corruption. Back in 1991, U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. described a clique of deputies at the Lynwood Sheriff’s station, in California, as a “neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang.” Around 70 Lynwood residents sued these officers alleging that these deputies engaged “in systematic acts of shooting, killing, brutality, terrorism, house-trashing and other acts of lawlessness and wanton abuse of power,” primarily against Blacks and Latinos.

Judge Hatter ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor saying: “There is a direct link between departmental policymakers, who tacitly authorize deputies’ unconstitutional behavior, and the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs.” The County of Los Angeles agreed to a $7.5 million settlement in 1996.

In 2008, notorious Chicago Detective Jon Burge (rumored to have KKK affiliation) was prosecuted on charges of torturing at least 120 Black men. He apparently referred to an electric shock device he used on Black men as the “nigger box.” Reportedly, his torturing skills were in such demand that he allegedly assisted in torturing Muslim detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military facility in Cuba.

It is also known that some police officers in Cleveland had “racist or Nazi graffiti” throughout their locker rooms. The numbers “311,” said to be Klan code for KKK, was also said to found in police restrooms in at least one police district in Cleveland. 311 is also a California police code for child pornography.

In Louisiana, Det. Raymond Mott was fired after a picture surfaced of him taking a Nazi salute at a KKK rally in 2014. And in Texas, two policemen were fired when their Klan connections were discovered. In July 2014, two Florida policemen were exposed as members of the Klan. Florida Deputy Chief David Borst, of the Fruitland Park Police, resigned and Officer George Hunnewell, also of the Fruitland Park Police, was fired after they were revealed to be Klansmen.

In analyzing these  FBI reports, it begs us to ask this question: how many more White cops do we have walking the streets, right now, who are nothing more than “Ghost Skin,” racists donning the blue uniform so they can legally terrorize and kill Black people?

This is a deadly serious situation.

Everyone will now forever remember the killing of 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer by racist white supremacist murderer James Alex Fields Jr. during the August 2017 protests against white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia. And rightfully so.

But there was another chilling allegation that when virtually unnoticed during the "Unite the Right" rally: the claim that police “pulled back” when armed Nazis and assorted racists charged unarmed, peaceful protesters.

One of the persons who made this accusation is none other than Dr. Cornel West. Here is a partial excerpt of Dr. West’s impressions of that awful event as he related it in an interview on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

"You had a number of the courageous students, of all colors, at the University of Virginia who were protesting against the neo-fascists themselves. The neo-fascists had their own ammunition. And this is very important to keep in mind, because the police, for the most part, pulled back. The next day, for example, those 20 of us who were standing, many of them clergy, we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the antifascists who approached…they saved our lives, actually."

This tells us that a major bloodbath was averted in Virginia—and not because of the positive actions of police. Why did the police “pull back,” as Dr. West, and others, allege? Were they intent on letting Nazis and racists kill peaceful protesters? Was there some coordination here between these bigots and their buddies on the police force?

As I’m about to partially document, the KKK and police have had a long collaborative relationship. The infiltration of police departments by racists should not surprise us. There are many historically documented cases of collaboration between the Klan and police long before these more recent incidents of KKK police in Florida, Texas, Louisiana or Los Angeles.

Given the fight we face now, it’s time we examine more fully that sordid history.

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