Law enforcement and January 6, 2021

| 18 Jan 2021 | 12:34

    The catastrophic security failures which resulted in the breaching, destruction and death at the Capitol last week shook my core. I watched the ghastly attack unfold on television, grieving as domestic terrorists, bent on crushing our democracy, rammed doors and shattered windows. Rampaging through the labyrinthian halls of Congress, the armed insurrectionists invaded the House chamber, vandalized and plundered offices, including that of the Speaker of the House.

    Six people died and scores were injured.

    To the backdrop of gunfire and raging mobs chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” “Get Pelosi,” congressional staff and members huddled in fear of their lives, not knowing if the door behind which thy crouched was the next to be breached. The rampaging mob laid siege, with little resistance, for more than hours: an epic failure of law enforcement at all levels.

    The New York Times reported on Jan. 12 that federal officials have arrested members of law enforcement in Florida, New York, Texas and Maryland for their participation in the crimes of last Wednesday. An attorney for one of the accused officers stated: “The president and the Capitol Police encouraged despicable behavior..., Capitol law enforcement were recorded taking selfies with the insurrectionists.”

    “‘There was some degree of complicitness...’ Sabrina Karim, a professor of government at Cornell who studies global policing, told Vox. ‘Some of that likely stems from similarities in ideology between some police and some of the rioters, with ‘blue lives matter’ signs seen alongside Confederate flags and other racist imagery during the riot. White supremacy has really crept into police forces,’ Karim said.”

    We must face head on the truth behind this national tragedy: that some law enforcement officers as well as active and retired military members, from cities and small towns alike, participated in this insurrection and identify with white nationalist, Nazi, xenophobic and anti-democratic ideologies that define Trumpism. These views have found covert welcome in the cultures of local institutions we rely upon to protect and serve all citizens equally.

    The federal investigation has uncovered thus far a significant infiltration of white nationalism in law enforcement and identified its centrality in enabling last week’s savaging of our nation’s Capitol.

    Every American should demand a closer look at what we cannot easily discern behind the uniformly blue exterior: where is racial bias lurking in our local law enforcement culture and what are we as community members, going to do about it?

    Supervisor Sweeton: as a start, a far more earnest, inclusive, public EO203 process is urgently needed.

    Joan Tirrell