+
popular

Fired North Carolina cops are a reminder of how white supremacists have infiltrated law enforcement

Fired North Carolina cops are a reminder of how white supremacists have infiltrated law enforcement
Photo by Jacky Lam on Unsplash

Three officers were fired this week from the Wilmington, North Carolina police department after dash cam footage revealed horrifically racist conversations between them.

But before we delve into that, let's look at a brief timeline of select white supremacist incidents in police departments across the U.S.—and the FBI warning that came in the middle of them—to add some context to this story.

In 1991, a group of Los Angeles sheriff's deputies were discovered to be part of a "neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang" known as The Vikings—membership that department officials knew about and did nothing to address.

In 1999, an unknown number of officers in three different Cleveland, Ohio police districts were found to have scrawled racist or Nazi graffiti throughout police quarters, including restrooms and locker rooms.

In 2001, two officers in Williamson County, Texas were fired after they were discovered to be members of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 2006, the FBI detailed the specific threat of white supremacists purposefully infiltrating police departments. Though largely (and frustratingly) redacted, an intelligence bulletin describes how white nationalists and skinheads try to blend into police departments by hiding their true beliefs (a practice known as "ghost skinning") with the purpose of disrupting investigations into supremacist groups and recruiting other white supremacists.


Moving right along, in 2014, a Florida deputy police chief and another officer were fired after an FBI informant outed them as members of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 2015, a ProPublica article describing copious racist messages in a New York cop blog also pointed to other racist incidents around the same time in various U.S. cities' police departments.

And now, here we are in 2020, watching three Wilmington, North Carolina officers lose their jobs after accidentally recording their blatantly racist and violent conversations.

This is by no means a full list, and North Carolina incident is by no means any less egregious than those that preceded it. In a routine review of dash cam footage, former officer Kevin Piner was heard talking to another officer about the protests for racial justice. He said the police department was only concerned with "kneeling down with the black folks." He called a Black officer in his department "bad news" and a "piece of shit," saying, "Let's see how his boys take care of him when shit gets rough, see if they don't put a bullet in his head."

In a conversation with another officer later in the day, Piner called a woman he arrested the day before a "negro" and "n----r." He referred to a Black magistrate judge as "fucking negro magistrate," saying, "She needed a bullet in her head right then and move on. Let's move the body out of the way and keep going."

As if that weren't bad enough, the two officers talked about the possibility of a "civil war" coming, with Piner saying he was going to buy an assault rifle. "We are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them fucking ni—–. I can't wait. God, I can't wait," he said, followed by saying that such a war was needed to "wipe 'em off the fucking map. That'll put 'em back about four or five generations."

The full report of what was recorded can be found here.

And a news conference with the city council and the new Wilmington police chief, Donny Williams, who had to deal with this mess on his first day on the job:

There's a lot of talk about implicit racial bias—racial prejudices that we don't even know we have—in policing. While that's an important consideration, we can't overlook the fact that there are also actual white supremacists within some police departments. How many? No one knows. Those mentioned here are just some of the ones who have been caught and identified. But there have clearly been enough of them that the FBI felt the need to issue a bulletin about it and warn that it was a threat. And what was done with that information in that warning after it came out? Did police departments change the way they screen recruits or do a deep dive into their own ranks? Unclear.

No one is saying that all police officers are blatant white supremacists, obviously. But we've seen far too many stories of officers voicing white supremacist beliefs and far too many officers and officials turning the other way instead of outing them and ousting them.

In 2016, Samuel Jones, professor of law at Chicago's John Marshall School of Law, told PBS News Hour that neither the FBI or police departments had established systems for vetting people for white supremacist ties.

"I cannot imagine that the FBI today could issue a report concerning any kind of threat without people being alarmed and wanting immediate action," he said. "But in this case there seems to be almost an acceptance of it. The thought is 'it's just ideology and they have a right to believe this.'"

The problem is "just ideology" isn't a small thing when we're talking about people with the means, power, and authority to take people's lives. A police officer cannot serve and protect the public if they believe that a large percentage of the public isn't worth serving or protecting. No matter what our personal beliefs are about policing, we should at least all be able to agree on that.


Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.

Keep ReadingShow less
Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

American mom living in Germany lists postpartum support and women are gobsmacked

“Every video you make gets me closer to actually moving to Germany.”

U.S. mom living in Germany shares postpartum support she received.

Having a baby is not an easy feat no matter which way they come out. The pregnant person is either laboring for hours and then pushing for what feels like even more hours, or they're getting cut from hip to hip to bring about their bundle of joy. (Unless you're one of those lucky—or rather not-so-lucky—folks who get to labor for hours only to still end up in surgery.)

Giving birth is hard and healing afterward can feel dang near impossible, especially given that most states in the U.S. only offer six weeks of maternity leave and it's typically unpaid. But did you know that not everyone has that experience?

A mom who had her first child in the U.S. before meeting her current husband and relocating to Germany is shedding light on postpartum care in her new country. The stark contrast is beyond shocking to women living in the U.S. and she's got a few considering crossing the ocean for a better quality of life.

Keep ReadingShow less

Meghan Elinor chimes in on the Starbucks tipping debate.

Tipping culture is rapidly changing in America, so understandably a lot of people aren’t sure what to do when they buy a coffee and the debit card reader asks for a tip. It used to be that people only tipped bartenders, drivers, servers and hairdressers.

Now people are being asked to tip just about any time they encounter a point-of-sale system. There is a big difference between tipping a server who lugged around hot plates of food for an hour-long meal and someone who simply handed you an ice cream cone.

"We're living in an era of inflation, but on top of that, we've got tipping everywhere—tipflation. I take it a step further and call it a tipping invasion. Because that's really what I think it is," etiquette expert Thomas Farley (aka Mister Manners) told CBS 8.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less