By Gerald Smith w/ Isabel Fava Bean
The Cops and the Klan Go Hand In Hand is not merely a propagandist slogan. It is a fact of life. So much so that it must become the guidepost for every Anti-facist, every trade union militant, every conscious Black person that understands the dangers that come with the rise of fascism in America. There are many ways the police work directly to assist the fascists:
(1) Police have allowed fascists to carry knives and guns. The VICE News documentary Race and Terror, which focuses on events in Charlottesville, North Carolina in August of 2017, revealed that white supremacist protesters were armed and proud of it. This is a film that all Anti-fascists should see. In 2018, Portland, Oregon police discovered members of white nationalist group Patriot Prayer positioned with a cache of weapons atop a roof overlooking a planned rally, made no arrests, and kept the incident a secret for months.
(2) Meanwhile, police have actively disarmed Antifa while enforcing and physically defending the so-called “free speech” of fascists. For instance, in anticipation of an Alt-right gathering in 2018, the City of Berkeley passed a series of ordinances banning commonly owned objects like skateboards and bike locks. But folks not going to the demonstrations often didn’t know about the new ordinances. They banned Anti-fascist protesters from using poles to carry banners, commonly used in nonviolent demonstrations, and then arrested many of them for “possesion of a banned weapon” and unspecified “crimes”. The city was attempting to disarm Antifa to the point where we couldn’t have a sign on the end of a stick!
(3) Police have framed up, assaulted, and arrested Anti-fascist protestors, while carefully avoiding arresting white supremacists, even those who have criminal records. In 2019 a public records request revealed that Portland police had been amicably texting for years with Patriot Prayer organizers and had, on at least one occasion, coordinated directly with the organizers to warn them personally before arresting them, allowing the white supremacists to walk free while anti-fascist counterprotesters were arrested the same day.
These issues are intertwined as ways that the cops and the state assist fascists and undermine anti-fascists.
But there is another way that the police help the fascists that is sometimes overlooked. Through conscious misinformation — a form of psychological warfare — the police can and do disorient and paralyze our base of support. For instance, when responding to violence perpetrated by fascist individuals against anti-fascist demonstrators, law enforcement have suppressed evidence, failed to charge the perpetrators and instead engaged in profound acts of victim blaming — bringing charges against victims and misleading the public to believe that the anti-fascists are actually the violent ones. Yet, because of broad public support for Anti-fascist demonstrators, those charges often don’t stick. The Berkeley 5 are anti-racist protesters who were accused of beating a fascist after a rally. They were arrested on assault charges, but when brought to trial, the jurors found them innocent. The Sacramento 3 are activists, members of the Brown Berets and By Any Means Necessary, who were arrested while serving as security to protect counter-protesters at an Alt-right rally. Their felony charges were eventually dropped, leaving only minor charges for which they did community service.
Cops have, time and time again, failed to intervene to defend isolated individuals or groups that are clearly outnumbered by fascists prepared to do them harm. On August 11, 2017, the day before Heather Heyer was murdered, a group of interfaith clergy from all over the country had gathered in a Charlottesville church ahead of Alt-right demonstrations that weekend. At the end of the service, white supremacists surrounded the church with torches, threatening those inside. Police failed to intervene, but Anti-fascists arrived and pushed the white supremacists back, defending the clergy and churchgoers. Cornell West, who was inside the church, told Amy Goodman that Antifa saved the lives of the clergy.
The same weekend, Alt-right men surrounded teacher and hip hop artist DeAndre Harris, beating him within an inch of his life. Video footage, aired on national television, clearly showed that cops were watching from the police station across the street, but failed to intervene. Astoundingly, police put out a warrant for DeAndre, who turned himself in while still recovering from the attack. The bogus charges were later dropped. According to an independent review of the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia Alt-right protests and counter-protests, “The [police departments’] planning and coordination breakdowns prior to August 12 produced disastrous results… officers failed to intervene in physical altercation… Virginia State Police directed its officers to remain behind barricades rather than risk injury responding to conflicts between protesters and counter-protesters.”
One of the many ways that the police help the fascists is by publicly misidentifying them in noteworthy cases that have gone viral thereby causing mass confusion on the actual danger of fascism. When young Black woman Nia Wilson was murdered in cold blood on the platform of the MacArthur BART station in 2018, police failed to disclose that her killer, John Cowell, was a Proud Boy (white supremacist). The cops were covering up the fact that her murder was a hate crime — because Cowell did not know Nia, racism was obviously the motive. Police tried to erase the racial motives of this murder.
As the cops fail to identify white supremacists as such, they are meanwhile projecting Nazi motives onto suspects when it serves them. One example is the handling of the December 29, 2019 violent attack on Hasidic Jews attending a New York Hanukkah celebration. Cops have filed hate crime charges, though the perpetrator, a Black man, is clearly mentally ill. Audrey Sasson, of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, commented after the attack: “Anti-Semitism is on the rise. It is in the water. It is being fueled by a white nationalist administration… And it is causing a rise in hate crimes across the board. The way it shows up against Jews is different than the way it shows up against other communities, but all communities are targeted by white supremacy and white nationalism. And so, our response is to come together with other communities that are targeted.” Sasson is pushing back against the state’s efforts to pit two communities who are both threatened by fascists — Jews and African Americans — against one another.
We have to stop aiding our enemies by repeating their narratives. They are not our political analysts. But how do you know the police are lying?
If they’re talking they’re lying.