Spike Lee and Jordan Peele’s BLACKkKLANSMAN highlights a problem long known to the black community, white supremacists in law enforcement and the military. The movie is based on the true story of retired black police officer Ron Stallworth, who went undercover in the KKK. His book is the inspiration for the movie. Some wrongly believed that having Barack Obama as President made America post-racial, as if the election of one person of color could tear down centuries of systemic and institutional racism. The myth was that racists were grumpy old white men. Recently a young woman said that she was a “very clean thoroughbred white girl” to avoid jail for driving under the influence. The neo-Nazis that marched in Charlottesville were not disgruntled old men, but young millennials with tiki torches who assaulted protesters and crashed a car into a crowd killing Heather Heyer. The movie BlacKkKlansman shines a light on how law enforcement and active duty military, those meant to serve and protect, have members belonging to white supremacy and hate groups. Talk about America First.
In the movie, it was revealed that certain members of the klan were active duty military. According to the Military Times, “[n]early one in four troops polled say they have seen examples of white nationalism among their fellow service members, and troops rate it as a larger national security threat than Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.” Even more troubling is that some white supremacists who participated in the Charlottesville confederate statue riot were active duty military. Trump’s stance on the Charlottesville riot that killed Heather Heyer makes it clear that white terrorism in the military is not a concern. It has been noted that “since Trump took office, more Americans have been killed in attacks by white American men…than by Muslim terrorists or foreigners.”
Police brutality is nothing new. In the 70s and 80s, it was well-known that the Chicago Police Department engaged in torture tactics. Under Police Commander Jon Burge, over 100 black men were tortured into confessing to crimes they never committed under the guise of a traffic-violation pullover. Even today, Chicago police use Homan Square as a “black site.” Men have been held there for weeks and months with no access to an attorney. Officially, the Homan Square site does not exist. Unfortunately, this has been a reality most African-Americans experience, a realization of Aesop’s warning that “no plea will protect the innocent from the unjust judge.” The lynch mobs of the South were replaced by a law enforcement system that targeted and profiled black people for no reason or minor infractions (jay walking, failure to signal while turning) that resulted in their injury, incarceration, or death. Hurricane Carter, the Central Park Five, and Rolando Cruz are examples of not only horrible policing, but dishonest prosecutors withholding information to get convictions and bolster their careers. This is the reason why Black Lives Matter exists, and players kneel – an acknowledgment that our justice system is flawed and unjust when it comes to people of color, especially blacks.
NPR noted that in “the 2006 bulletin, the FBI detailed the threat of white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police in order to disrupt investigations against fellow members and recruit other supremacists. The bulletin was released during a period of scandal for many law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including a neo-Nazi gang formed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who harassed black and Latino communities. Similar investigations revealed officers and entire agencies with hate group ties in Illinois, Ohio and Texas. Problems with white supremacists in law enforcement have surfaced since that report. In 2014, two Florida officers — including a deputy police chief — were fired after an FBI informant outed them as members of the Ku Klux Klan. It marked the second time within five years that the agency uncovered an officer’s membership in the KKK. Several agencies nationwide have also launched investigations into personnel who may not be formal hate group members, but face allegations of race-based misconduct.”
In June 2015, two Alabama police officers left the department over ties to white nationalists. Last month, Alabama police officers were suspended for making a white power gesture in a photo. Also last month, a Washington County Sheriff deputy was fired after wearing clothing associated with a white pride group. A police union president called Black Lives Matter protesters a “pack of rabid animals”. A Kentucky police officer called a black teen a “wild animal that needs to be put down.” His Facebook page demonstrated “deep-seated bias against minority communities.”
Trump, the president of the United States, called athletes kneeling during the anthem “sons of bitches” for protesting police brutality. Trumpism has emboldened racists. The attacks against blacks, immigrants, Muslims, and other people of color has expanded to include the media.
Do yourself a favor and see the movie BLACKkKLANSMAN. It will help put current events into perspective.
The past may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme. – Mark Twain