You would have missed it if you weren’t listening carefully. On Sunday’s 60 Minutes, the second segment of the night was a profile of Christian Picciolini, a reformed skinhead-slash-racist-slash-dude-who-used-to-beat-black-people-up-on-the-reg; a man Dylann Roof recently called a “race traitor.”
After saying that he had suffered an angry childhood in Illinois (that would be north of the Mason-Dixon Line, for those who study geography), and a life skinheadding, Picciolini said that he’d now dedicated his life to reforming other violent white supremacists.
The most chilling part of the entire interview, however, was when Picciolini said this:
You know 30 years ago, we were skinheads. We wore swastikas and shaved heads, and you could identify us pretty easily. So we decided at that time to grow our hair out, to trade in our boots for suits, and we encouraged people to get jobs in law enforcement, to go to the military and get training and to recruit there.
Repeat last line: “We encouraged people to get jobs in law enforcement, to go to the military and get training and to recruit there.” Shoot and recruit. Sounds about Nazi.
Long have many African Americans suspected that racists were able to slither into law enforcement—either from spoken cultural lore, which said that slave patrollers became the law, or when KRS-One rapped, “Overseer, overseer, overseer, officer” in “Sound of Da Police.”
What if there are cohorts of covert white supremacists, neo-Nazis, skinheads, Klansmen and just plain nigger haters in law enforcement? It would explain some of the egregious actions of seemingly rational, well-trained professionals, who would have no reason to shoot to kill but for the fact that they liked to kill. Black people. And get away with it.
In 2015 the FBI, itself a law enforcement agency, “quietly” investigated the white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement, according to an Intercept investigation from earlier this year. Two things stood out from that report. One, the FBI—under James Comey, mind you—has been reluctant to “publicly address that threat,” meaning that we’re all in the dark about how small or vast this problem is; that, and it has also been wary to “point out the movement’s long-standing strategy of infiltrating the law enforcement community.”
I don’t know why this “long-standing strategy” is news to me, but why hasn’t this been talked about more? Especially in light of these deadly high-profile shootings? At least as a motive. Because it’s hard to prove? Because it goes too deep? Because it’s true?
Even if these police officers are not “kard-karrying” members of any one hate group, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories of cops all over the country with the evidence that proves they are good with racist language, epithets and imagery. But when the homicide cases are tried, especially when it’s a white cop who killed a black person, it’s always about black compliance. And the officer’s fear.
I mean, like, given the spate of black-death porn videos that have taken place in the last few years—which have not only fetishized dead black bodies but clearly showed that there was no rational reason to shoot—could it all just be a sick, updated twist on Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game?
Pete Simi, an expert on white supremacists in the U.S. military, told The Intercept that rooting out these individuals in law enforcement is more difficult than doing so in the armed forces “because of the decentralized way in which the thousands of police departments across the country operate, the historical affinity of certain police departments with the same racial ideologies espoused by extremists, and an even broader reluctance to do much about it.”
They’re already getting military-grade weaponry. We get dead. They walk. We get Ferguson, Mo. We get paid blood money. We don’t get justice.
Is it so far-fetched that law enforcement is really hunting black people?
At the end of the 60 Minutes segment, an older black man who used to work at Picciolini’s high school forgave him for beating up black kids and spitting on the principal, a black woman, and calling her filthy names, because that’s what black people on TV do. Awwwww.
But the buried lead? That these neo-neo-Nazis, out here looking more like choir boys than skinheads, are turning into your “friendly” neighborhood police officers. Ones who are not so friendly to black people. Ones who can hunt and kill with impunity or rare consequence. Ones who can continue what was started here long ago.
Read more at 60 Minutes.