Opinion: Where hate finds safe harbor, accountability is the answer
April 18, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 23.4%. 2 min read.
It has taken different forms over time, but we are clearly still struggling to confront the influence of hateful ideologies within our public safety ranks and criminal justice system, former Alabama Senator and U.S. Attorney Doug Jones writes. One key to uprooting this influence, as Jones witnessed through his work prosecuting the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, begins with a commitment to accountability -- especially for our words.
(CNN)In the years after I prosecuted and secured convictions for two of the Klansmen responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, I traversed the country giving presentations about the case and the contributing factors that led to that fateful day in 1963.
There was no question among the Ku Klux Klan and other White supremacists that Connor, who had control over Birmingham's police and fire departments, and other public officials were sympathetic to their cause.
The Mobile Police Department said they were trying to chase down every lead, but as the so-called "War on Drugs" began to mount in 1981, too many in law enforcement simply assumed that drugs were at the cause of every young Black man's death.
Of course, that wasn't true -- and we now know the Klan had targeted Michael as an act of retaliation after the case of a Black man accused of killing a White Birmingham police officer ended in a mistrial.
In the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the U. S. Capitol by violent extremists, we have seen troubling reports about those rioters' connections to law enforcement and our military -- positions of great responsibility and with the power to make life-and-death decisions on the job.
While I do not believe there is some broader conspiracy among the police, our military and the myriad extremist groups in America to coordinate and advance racist ideologies, it's clear that these views continue to find safe harbor within many of those institutions.
Police and public safety officials need a clear, consistent set of guidelines and code of conduct to prohibit any support for or affiliation with extremist groups.