Police in Sacramento took extra efforts to protect white supremacists during a protest in 2016, and treated victims of their attacks like suspects, new records reveal.
In the days following a demonstration led by a neo-Nazi group called the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), police worked diligently with the group and its members in order to target “anti-racist” counter-protesters, court documents revealed. They also revealed that some officers held sympathetic views toward the white supremacist group, the Guardian reported.
“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 who was part of the counter-protester resistance at the event.
The Guardian report details how California Highway Patrol (CHP) investigators took extra steps to protect members of the TWP, while also subjecting victims of their attacks to extra scrutiny. CHP investigator Donovan Ayres, for example, told one member affiliated with the TWP that he would try to redact his name for an open records request about the event, and suggested he would take other measures to protect him.
Ayres’ treatment of an African-American counter-protester, however, was markedly different. The counter-protester, who was stabbed in the abdomen, chest, and hand was charged by Ayres and CHP for unlawful assembly and wearing a mask. Ayres’ evidence of wrongdoing by the counter-protester was circumspect: He cited a Facebook picture of the individual, in which the African-American man held up a fist, which Ayres called a “Black Power salute” that demonstrated his “intent and motivation to violate the civil rights” of the TWP.
Audio recordings of officers’ interviews with the white supremacist group also demonstrate questionable favoritism.
“We’re pretty much going after” the counter-protesters, they told TWP members. “We’re looking at you as a victim.”
Prosecutors are denying claims of bias by police, but from the evidence provided, it seems the case against anti-fascist counter-protesters was heavily one-sided. There’s no indication that counter-protesters to the white supremacist rally were afforded the same amount of respect that members of the TWP were given.
The idea that “both sides” are to blame when violence erupts at white nationalist rallies needs to be rejected — but more than that, a fair investigation needs to be carried out when violence does happen. It’s not clear whether police in Sacramento afforded everyone the same treatment in the course of their inquiry.