CLEVELAND, OH – In November 2006 I reviewed an FBI bulletin released October 17, 2006 which sought to alert elected officials that white supremacists were infiltrating law enforcement offices. At the time I was serving my 10th month as East Cleveland’s mayor and director of public safety. The late Patricia Lane was the civil service chief of police I had inherited. The late Almeta Johnson, Cleveland’s first female chief prosecuting attorney, served as my director of law and chief prosecutor.
The original version of the FBI’s bulletin was heavily-redacted as it portrayed how white supremacist law enforcement officers had access to “intelligence gathering” tools such as its National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database or Ohio’s Law Enforcement Automated Data Systems (LEADS) to acquire information about their “elected official” targets or people who were “protected” as sources.
The Congress of the United States of America’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties last September 2020 released the unredacted version of the 2006 FBI Bulletin during a hearing. U.S. Rep. Ayonna Pressley in the video I’ve shared above is shown accepting testimony from witnesses about the continued problem with white supremacists who have now become embedded within law enforcement since the FBI Bulletin’s release 15 years ago. The concept of law enforcement officers who were white supremacists working as police, dispatchers, jailers, prosecutors, probation officers, baliffs and judges was alarming when I read the redacted FBI Bulletin in 2006.
I had worked as a reporter for the Call & Post newspaper and had read stories in its “morgue” that covered jail hangings occurring in Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs with all Caucasian criminal justice workers. The FBI’s warning gave them a new perspective.
So have the warrantless pursuits that are commonly mislabled “high speed police chases.” So did prosecutors going through great lengths to avoid cops being charged for crimes; or police chiefs and safety directors calling crimes and civil rights abuses violations of “administrative offenses.”
The infiltration effort was organized, according to the FBI’s 2006 bulletin. The infiltrators were described as “ghost skins” who could “avoid displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.”
The October 17, 2006 FBI bulletin used the example of an internet posting that promoted the infiltration as a form of “role playing.”
“You must get inside the mind of the person you are trying to duplicate,” the FBI bulletin explained.
It further went on to explain how white supremacists could infiltrate law enforcement and have access to tools and access to prosecutors, other federal and state law enforcement officers to learn of investigations that were targeting white supremacists or skinheads. The states identified in the report where white supremacists were infiltrating police departments were Ohio, Illinois and Texas.
After I terminated Lane and appointed Ralph Spotts to replace her as police chief, I chose to get involved in the interviewing process for new police hires. After recommendations were made by Spotts the applicants met with me.
I asked Caucasian applicants from small police departments in cities with no or few American Negro residents why they sought employment in a city with a 96 percent American Negro population. I got answers from some that they wanted the “action” or “experience” which from my perspective was a disqualifier. It was not my intent to hire inexperienced action junkies from any ethnic group to patrol a city where I had relatives and friends; and voters who had elected me to discharge the duties of a “chief law enforcement officer.”
I knew Section 737.11 of Ohio’s Revised Code required law enforcement officers to “obey and enforce” all the criminal laws of the United States and the State of Ohio. I knew upholding the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of Ohio was language included in the oaths of office I would administer to new hires.
After administering the oaths of office I asked each newly-appointed law enforcement officer if they’d read the two constitutions and all the federal and state criminal laws they had duties to uphold and obey. They hadn’t.
They were informed that at some point in the future they’d see the oath of office they’d signed during a disciplinary hearing. At that time they’d be reading criminal charges that were going to be filed against them for violating the constitutions and laws they hadn’t read but had promised to uphold and obey.
They were also reminded that the oath of office did not include obeying the collective bargaing agreement that my administration negotiated with the Fraternal Order of Police and that I knew better than them. I wrote my own responses to their grievances. Civil Service laws trumps collective bargaining agreements.
Clevelanders will remember that on July 21, 1999, former Mayor Michael R. White held a news conference to share how racist graffiti that included Nazi swatiskas was found written on the walls inside the police districts. Anthony Ruffin held the office of president of the Black Shield. Martin Flask served as White’s chief of police. Henry Guzman held the office of director of public safety. Bob Beck held the office of president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association. Mike asked me to join his administration a year later as a special assistant. Barry Withers was Mike’s “EA” or executive assistant over public safety.
Ted Almay served as the late then Republican Governor George Voinovich’s superintendent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. He explained how the number 311 referenced the Ku Klux Klan. The “3” represented the three K’s in Ku Klux Klan. “K” is the 11th letter in the alphabet. Mike’s claim was no bullshit.
Before the former Cleveland mayor held his news conference he should have dispatched a team of photographers to each district to photograph the racist filth written all over bathroom stalls and in other areas of the public buildings. I had worked as a police reporter for the Cleveland Press in 1981 and knew he was right from what I’d seen written on the bathroom walls in the Justice Center. It was the same when I published the Crime Reporter in 1988 and visited the Justice Center daily to look up police reports. The first cell phones with cameras in America were released in November 2002. You couldn’t hide a 35mm.
After Mayor White’s news conference the walls in the districts and downtown at the Justice Center were scrubbed and the proof of his claim erased. Beck could then run his mouth with reporters and claim he’d never seen it. The CPPA’s vice president, John Kincaid, made a predictable denial that there were not any racists or white supremacists working as Cleveland police officers.
White asked United States Attorney Emily Margaret Sweeney to investigate. He also asked Cleveland State University associate professor Ronnie Dunn to investigate.
Dunn examined 186,000 citations and learned that 85 percent were written to “dark skinned” American Negro males. The remaining 15 percent went in the following order to dark-skinned American Negro females; dark skinned Hispanic males; dark skinned Hispanic females; light-skinned American Negro males; light-skinned American Negroes; light-skinned Hispanic males; light-skinned Hispanic females and then Caucasian males and females.
Dunn confirmed a similar set of facts with citations issued by Shaker Heights police. The evidence proved racial bias was embedded within police thinking.
Instead of investigating the racism United States Attorney Sweeney investigated police use of deadly force. She did so as a civil instead of criminal investigation. Sweeney may come from a “law enforcement family” and have a pro-police or “protect my relatives” bias.
White had been replaced by Jane Campbell as Cleveland’s mayor in 2002 when the deadly force report was released; and in 2003 when the violation of constitutional rights in the city’s jail was released. White retired in 2001 after 12 years in office.
Subodh Chandra served as Campbell’s director of law but he had worked for Sweeney in the United States attorney’s on health care fraud. Former Russian Jewish Assistant United States Attorney Steve Dettelbach’s wife, Karil Bialotosky-Dettelbach, a Mexican immigrant, worked for both the Campbell and Jackson administrations at the time Justice Department officials were investigating their inability to manage police within constitutional and lawful boundaries.
Chandra, an Asian Indian, asked the USDOJ to end the use of deadly force investigation of his boss, Campbell, early. Former Mayor White’s 1999 request for an investigation of white supremacy in the Cleveland Division of Police was thwarted by what could be perceived as white supremacist sympathizers controlling the office of the United States Attorney and FBI in the Northern District of Ohio.
I can recall no case where federal prosecutors operating out of the United States Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Ohio have used Section 241 and 242 of Title 18 of the United States Code as Congress intended when it upgraded the two federal laws from misdemeanors to felonies during passage of the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Control Act of 1994.
Dettelbach proved a conspiracy existed to violate rights under the color of law with his investigation of 600 police incident reports that identified the “conspiracies” Cleveland police engaged in to conceal their crimes. There are penalties of up to 10 years in prison or the death penalty for 18 U.S.C. 241 and 242 violations he chose not to use to give justice to the families of Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Tamir Rice and other police crime victims.
Something other than laws are motivating prosecutors not to criminally charge cops for known crimes. Something other than the federal and state criminal laws municipal law enforcement officers have duties to obey before they attempt to enforce them is guiding their warrantless pursuits and violent interactions with American citizens.