What would happen if a police chief found out one of his officers was a part of a white nationalist organization known for violent attacks? What if a jury had already determined that the officer was guilty of violating a citizen’s constitutional rights in a violent attack? What if someone could prove this cop had actually paid dues to the violent, white supremacist organization? Could you imagine what would happen? Well, if this happened in the lily-white village of East Hampton, Conn., the answer is:
Nothing at all.
The FBI classifies the Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated them a “hate group.” The New York Times and Wall-Street Journal calls them “far-right.” They were kicked off of most social media platforms for espousing white nationalist ideology.
Proud Boys were convicted of gang violence in New York and participated in the White Lives Matter rally in Tennessee. Former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler organized the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Va., and if you were so inclined, you could have met members of the “alt-right” fraternal organization protesting with neo-Nazis and attacking anti-racists in Berkeley, Calif.
Or, if you just happen to be cruising through Connecticut, you can just stop in East Hampton and ask to meet officer Kevin P. Wilcox.
In June, Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, sent a letter to East Hampton Police Chief Dennis Woessner notifying the department that Wilcox, a 10-year-veteran of the force, was a known white supremacist. The June 24 letter also noted that a federal grand jury had determined that Wilcox violated the constitutional rights of Alan P. Clark during a 2008 incident that somehow resulted in Clark getting beat in the head with Wilcox’s flashlight. The city eventually reached a confidential settlement in that case and Wilcox continued his employment as an officer.
“Officer Wilcox’s association with white supremacists on public platforms, as well as his history of violence, risks interfering with your department’s operations by disrupting the working relationships between the East Hampton Police Department and the community it serves,” wrote Clarke in her letter to Chief Woessner.
In response, the chief’s position was basically: “Yeah, but why y’all always bringing up old shit?” explaining that Wilcox has retired from racism.
The Hartford Courant reports:
The East Hampton officer, Kevin P. Wilcox, “stopped his association” with the Proud Boys in February, about five months before the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law inquired about his social media connections with other group members, Police Chief Dennis Woessner said.
In a letter to the Washington-based civil rights group, the police chief acknowledged that Wilcox had been a Proud Boys member and made online payments to a group leader. The rights group described those publicly visible, online transactions as monthly dues that helped fund the Proud Boys’ “violent or otherwise illegal” activities.
But the chief said he reviewed the matter, received an “explanatory report” from Wilcox and closed the department’s inquiry as being “unfounded,” with no evidence to support a policy violation. Wilcox “adamantly denies being associated with white supremacists’ groups,” the chief wrote in a letter dated Sept. 13.
Woessner claims “there’s no question” that Wilcox is not a white supremacist for a number of reasons:
First of all, Woessner said he investigated the Proud Boys’ history of violence and hate by using a groundbreaking investigative technique: He Googled them. That’s not a joke. When reporters asked the goddamn police chief what he knew about the organization that has terrorized people across the country for years, the chief responded:
“Only what I searched on the Internet.”
Ok, to be fair, maybe Chief Woessner used Bing. Proud Boys say they aren’t racists, they are “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white apologists.” The chief also claims he looked at all of the stops Wilcox made since 2018 and noted that Wilcox has only stopped white people.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Wilcox isn’t racist and this is proof. I would expect that a racist police officer would probably target black people all the time, so I agree with Chief Whitesplainer that Wilcox might not be a white supremacist. Of course, the fact that East Hampton is 88 percent white and only 1 percent black probably has nothing to do with that.
The Lawyers Committee is demanding that the city conduct a thorough review of Wilcox’s traffic stops and any complaints that may have arisen before the officer turned in his letter of resignation to the Proud Boys. The group also wants Wilcox fired and a Department of Justice investigation into whether anyone’s civil rights have been violated.
“The infiltration of white supremacists into police departments is a national crisis,” Clarke said in a statement. “As communities contend with rising hate crimes, it is critical that African Americans and people of color have faith in local law enforcement. Police officers who affiliate with white supremacist groups contribute to a climate of fear and mistrust, infect the ranks with bias and racism, and exacerbate the divides between communities of color and the police.”
Although Chief Woessner’s logic makes no sense, I would like to declare to the East Hampton Police Department and racist cops everywhere that I have formally resigned from being stopped, frisked, arrested and shot by white supremacists with badges.
Damn. I wish I had known it was that easy.