Last summer, numerous people were hurt when the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), a neo-Nazi group, held a rally in Sacramento and anti-fascist counter-protesters showed up to oppose them. On Friday, the Guardian reported that in the aftermath of the rally, California police worked directly with TWP members to target “anti-racist” activists in their investigation.
Court documents and audio recordings obtained by the paper reveal that officers showed photos to Derik Punneo, a TWP member who was brought in for unrelated domestic violence charges, to try to identify antifa activists. Despite the fact that a police report showed that Punneo was armed with a knife at the rally, officers told Punneo, “We’re pretty much going after them...we’re looking at you as a victim.”
Police also worked to protect Doug McCormack, the TWP member who obtained the permit for the rally, despite the fact that McCormack was also armed with a knife at the rally. According to the Guardian:
In one phone call with Doug McCormack, identified by police as the TWP affiliate who acquired the permit for the Sacramento rally, CHP investigator Donovan Ayres warned him that police might have to release his name in response to a public records requests. The officer said he would try to protect McCormack.
“I’m gonna suggest that we hold that or redact your name or something until this gets resolved,” Ayres told McCormack, adding that he didn’t know who had requested records of the permit and noting, “If I did, I would tell you.”
(In an email to the Guardian, Steve Grippi, the chief deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, denied claims of bias, “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.”)
Violence in recent years on the part of the far right is much more prevalent than on the left. According to Forbes, right-wing extremists have killed 10 times more people since 1992 as their left-wing counterparts. The Cato Institute found that between 1992 and 2017, nationalist and right-wing groups injured 998 people, while those on the extreme left injured 46. A report out this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that over 100 people have been killed or injured by people influenced by the so-called “alt-right.”
Yet despite all of this, Sacramento was not the only time police have been accused of aiding the far right. During the rally in Charlottesville, where Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist, police were accused of standing by as the event turned violent.
Over the past year there have been multiple alarms sounded by the punditry class about the “alt-left” and the growth and acceptance of antifa activists. But the real threat is not coming from the left. It’s coming from the collaboration between the police and neo-Nazis: the powerful and the power-hungry.