Alabama Cops Suspended Just For Being In Neo-Confederate Hate Group. How Is That Fair? (UPDATED)
[Update: There have been new developments; please see end of post]
Oh, look, it's more Not Racial Transcendence, in a story that might have been huge if it hadn't been overshadowed by Wednesday's massacre in Charleston. Two cops in Anniston, Alabama, have been suspended after being outed as members of the neo-Confederate hate group the League of the South. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog identified Lt. Josh Doggrell and Lt. Wayne Brown as members of the white secessionist group Wednesday, and the city wasted little time in getting them off the street and putting them on administrative leave Wednesday afternoon. Not that there's anything racist about the League of the South -- they only want a white homeland, and while they don't necessarily hate blacks, they don't consider them actual Southerners.
The SPLC report includes video of Doggrell speaking at the LOSers' 2013 national conference; he had all sorts of cheerful things to say about sympathy for the League's ideas among the ranks of Southern cops:
Doggrell said it was "wonderful to be around sanity" at the convention, where he was surrounded by fellow southern nationalists. He also described a job interview where he worried that his involvement with the League might be an issue; he told his superior he would never "sell out" his position with the group, and "if it came down to it, I'd choose the League." He was pleasantly surprised when his boss said, "We pretty much think like you do." Doggrell said that most cops he knew weren't quite ready to take the leap and join a nice secessionist group like the league, but "they're much closer than they were ten or fifteen years ago." Progress!
The SPLC article says Doggrell had excellent news for the LOSers and their dream of a new Confederacy:
“The vast majority of men in uniform are aware that they’re southerners,” Doggrell said, touching on gun rights and the perennial fear among extremist groups that the Second Amendment is under attack. “And kith and kin comes before illegal national mandates.”
Lt. Doggrell reportedly joined the LOS in 1995 while in college after meeting LOS president Michael Hill; he was so intrigued by Hill's ideas that he served as chair of the University of Alabama's chapter -- hey, U of Alabama, did you know you have a chapter of a hate group there? -- and formed his very own chapter in 2009. As for Lt. Wayne Brown, SPLC had less information on his involvement with the League, simply noting that he and Doggrell had attended that 2013 convention together. A full video of Doggrell's speech has been on YouTube since 2013, but the SPLC only recently learned of it.
When the SPLC brought the video to the attention of the Anniston PD, city manager Brian Johnson initially said there was nothing the city could do about officers' membership in a "civic club," and added that while it was unfortunate Doggrell was involved with an icky group, the city's hands were tied, because First Amendment and stuff, and it's probably even illegal to fire someone for being a member of the KKK:
We could not terminate an employee solely on his or her membership in a legal, lawfully formed, civic club or organization ... I do not believe that someone could be terminated solely based on their private sector membership in a properly formed legal organization -- as hateful as the KKK might be.
Once the Hatewatch piece went online and started getting attention, the two officers were quickly suspended, because apparently the city decided that having open members of a hate group on the force might interfere with their ability to cop good. Anniston should be especially sensitive to the problem of racist cops, given that it was the spot where one of the Freedom Riders' buses was burned and its occupants beaten by Klansmen in 1961, as Anniston cops stood by and watched.
Like many of you, I was shocked yesterday by the allegations brought against two Anniston police officers. Rest assured, I am working hard to get to the bottom of it. Anniston has no tolerance for racism and hatred. Anniston has come a long way since bigots attacked a bus of Freedom Riders in 1961. We will continue to move forward, not backward.
Maybe Mayor Stewart can take some comfort from Thursday's Wall Street Journal editorial explaining that while, sure, nine murders in a black church may make people think of the 1960s, really, we shouldn't get too worried about racism, because the South has "moved forward to replace the system that enabled racist killings like those in the Birmingham church." Good to know.
Back then and before, the institutions of government -- police, courts, organized segregation -- often worked to protect perpetrators of racially motivated violence, rather than their victims.
But now, racists are ostracized and condemned, and we no longer have to worry about institutional racism, because "the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists." Except maybe for a few racist cops who get applause for telling a racist group that cops all across the South are very sympathetic to that group's ideas. And while there's no doubt a lot of wishful thinking on Lt. Dogrell's part -- everyone agrees with us! -- there's probably also a fair amount of truth as well.
The confluence of the SPLC article and the murders in the Charleston church apparently inspired LOSer president Michael Hill to reprint on Thursday a blog post called "In Defense of Our Blood," about the need for Southern secession and the defense of European blood and masculinity (he really does not like "metrosexuals," so we'll assume the article is a few years old). In addition to the defense of the Confederate flag that we noted earlier today, Hill has added another blog post, a "personal note" about how mean all the liberals are to the poor persecuted heroes of the League of the South, and how little it bothers him, because it means he's WINNING just like Charlie Sheen:
Like many League members, I don’t have to worry about losing my job if I’m too politically incorrect; conversely, as League President I am more likely to lose my job if I’m not politically incorrect enough! So, let the leftist progs wailed and scream, whine and moan, and call me “racist” and “anti-Semite.” I’ll just smile and keep on pounding home our message of the survival, well-being, and independence of the Southern people.
And just like his post about the beauty of the Confederate flag, there's not a word about the murders in Charleston. Why would Hill want to sully his beautiful ideology with any acknowledgment that its logical outcome is murder?
UPDATE: Lt. Dogrell has been fired, and Lt. Brown has retired. And the city of Anniston will be "reevaluating its policy regarding employees' membership in organizations to avoid any future situations similar to this."
If you hit the WSJ paywall, just google the title, "The Charleston Shooting: an echo of 52 years ago" and click the linky.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.