In the wake of the police murder of George Floyd three years ago, an estimated 2,000 protesters took to the streets of a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, to urge the largely white Francis Howell school district to address racial discrimination. In response, the school board passed a resolution promising to improve. Women and children dressed in white and men in black suits marched behind a row of drummers carrying banners calling for justice and equal rights. In 1908, civil rights leader Robert Weaver traveled to Springfield, Illinois, to investigate a recent race riot in which whites had attacked blacks.
To ensure full inclusion of African Americans in New Deal programs, Weaver created the Joint Committee for National Recovery (JCNR) in Washington, D. C. This coalition of twenty civil rights groups was formed to inform African Americans about new federal programs and to protest against discrimination in New Deal programs. Eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system requires more than just addressing systemic and implicit biases. It is also essential to confront explicit racism in law enforcement.
This type of racism takes many forms, from membership or affiliation to violent white supremacist or far-right militant groups, to engaging in racially discriminatory behavior toward the public or law enforcement colleagues, to making racist comments and sharing them on social media. When a police department fails to address allegations of agent participation in white supremacist activities in a timely and transparent manner, it can undermine the public's perception of an entire department, especially when problems arise with the use of force. The continued presence of even a small number of far-right militants, white supremacists, and other openly racist groups in law enforcement has a disproportionate impact on public safety and public trust in the criminal justice system and cannot be ignored. The elections played an important role in changing the balance of power within the Democratic Party from a southern block of white conservatives to a new coalition. However, as is often the case with these matters, during the nine years that police officers declared white supremacists served with the Anniston Police Department (including leadership positions), there was no full evaluation or public accounting of their activities. To effectively challenge white supremacy and reduce racial disparities in criminal justice systems across the country, it is essential that law enforcement agencies take proactive steps to identify and address explicit racism within their ranks. This includes conducting thorough background checks on all officers and providing ongoing training on implicit bias and cultural competency.
Additionally, departments should have clear policies regarding participation in white supremacist activities and take swift action when such activities are discovered.