Who woulda thunk it…
California police worked with neo-Nazis to pursue ‘anti-racist’ activists, documents show
Officers expressed sympathy with white supremacists and sought their help to target counter-protesters after a violent 2016 rally, according to court documents
California police investigating a violent white nationalist event worked with white supremacists in an effort to identify counter-protesters and sought the prosecution of activists with “anti-racist” beliefs, court documents show.
The records, which also showed officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity, were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists who were charged with felonies after protesting at a Sacramento rally. The defendants were urging a judge to dismiss their case and accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists”.
Defense lawyers said the case at the state capital offers the latest example of US law enforcement appearing to align with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups while targeting anti-fascist activists and Donald Trump protesters after violent clashes.
“It is shocking and really angering to see the level of collusion and the amount to which the police covered up for the Nazis,” said Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley teacher and anti-fascist organizer charged with assault and rioting after participating in the June 2016 Sacramento rally, where she said she was stabbed and bludgeoned in the head. “The people who were victimized by the Nazis were then victimized by the police and the district attorneys.”
Steve Grippi, chief deputy district attorney prosecuting the case in Sacramento, vehemently denied the claims of bias in an email to the Guardian, alleging that anti-fascist stabbing victims have been uncooperative and noting that his office has filed charges against one member of the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), the neo-Nazi group that organized the rally.
Some California highway patrol (CHP) investigation records, however, raise questions about the police’s investigative tactics and communication with the TWP.
Felarca’s attorneys obtained numerous examples of CHP officers working directly with the TWP, often treating the white nationalist group as victims and the anti-fascists as suspects.
Allegations of police bias and collusion with neo-Nazis have emerged in similar cases across the US. Last year, US prosecutors targeting anti-Trump protesters in Washington DC relied on video evidence from a far-right group with a record of deceptive tactics.
At an Oregon “alt-right” event, police allowed a member of a rightwing militia-style group to help officers arrest an anti-fascist activist.
Police in Charlottesville were widely accused of standing by as Nazis attacked protesters, and a black man who was badly beaten by white supremacists was later charged with a felony.
Sam Menefee-Libey, an activist who advocated for protesters charged for Inauguration Day rallies last year, said the government has repeatedly gone to great lengths to target anti-fascists: “We have patterns of acknowledged and unacknowledged overlaps between the interest of ultra-right nationalist organizations and the police and prosecutors’ offices.”