Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) sent joint letters to police departments in Tulsa, Oklahoma; North Charleston, South Carolina; Ferguson, Missouri; and Louisville, Kentucky.
The letters call for a full and thorough investigation into any officers that were involved in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and were sent in partnership with the following local partners: The Crutcher Foundation, Solomon Simmons Law, and Demanding a JUSTulsa (Tulsa); The Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM), ACLU of South Carolina, and NAACP North Charleston, S.C. (North Charleston); The Ferguson Collaborative (Ferguson); and ACLU of Kentucky (Louisville).
The letters further urge that police departments hold any involved officers accountable for their actions, subsequently disclose associated investigative findings to the public, and take steps to ensure that white supremacist supporters, and officers expressing explicitly racist beliefs, are uprooted from police departments.
According to the letters: “The individuals that participated in the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol did not engage in protest. Rather, they spearheaded an orchestrated attack on this nation’s democratic process and showed an alarming capacity for violence and lawlessness…. For too long, the threat of law enforcement officers who support white nationalist groups has been ignored.”
The letters continue, stating that any officer who was present at the Capitol attack should be investigated to determine whether they violated any laws, departmental policies, or codes of conduct. The letters go on to conclude, “This is not only an issue of police accountability, but a matter of our nation’s security and safety.”
In the wake of the white supremacist attack on the Capitol, the revelation that law enforcement personnel numbered among the insurrectionists shined another light on the systemic failures of policing in America. There is an urgent need to root out white supremacist supporters from police departments, to identify the departmental deficiencies that allowed these officers to remain on the force in the first place, and to evaluate the law enforcement history of any officers involved in the attempted insurrection at the Capitol.
To protect communities of color, law enforcement agencies must rid their ranks of racial bias and alert the communities they serve of steps being taken to ensure officers are being held accountable for engaging in any unlawful or unethical conduct. It is especially critical for law enforcement agencies to be forthright in their condemnation of white supremacist violence and exhaustive in their investigations of officers who may have been involved in this violence or insurrection.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.