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Prison guards at Dade County Men's Correctional Facility, Florida

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While the nation grapples with the not-guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, examples of abuses of power within the so-called justice system continue to be brought to light. A new investigative report from the Associated Press documents Florida’s lackluster response to the provocation of white supremacists within the corrections ranks. 

According to the Associated Press, the state has rarely investigated the allegations. Two incidents documented by Jamaal Reynolds, who is incarcerated, were not investigated by the Inspector General. Reynolds included identifiable information, including the names of guards involved.  

“If you notice, these two incidents were people of color. They (the guards) let it be known they are white supremacist,” Reynolds wrote. “The Black officers and white officers don’t even mingle with each other. Every day they create a hostile environment trying to provoke us so they can have a reason to put their hands on us.” 

The report also quoted a white officer who has been a whistleblower and punished for raising the alarm against abuses of power within the ranks. (Read the full report here).  

The presence of white supremacists within law enforcement has been well documented. Tolerating racists within the ranks along with deputizing white vigilantes has been a practice long overlooked. Last summer, the Brennan Center posted an overview of the presence of racists within law enforcement positions. 

Citing a 2017 FBI report, the Brennan Center highlighted the ways explicit racism influences law enforcement. 

The harms that armed law enforcement officers affiliated with violent white supremacist and anti-government militia groups can inflict on American society could hardly be overstated. Yet despite the FBI’s acknowledgment of the links between law enforcement and these suspected terrorist groups, the Justice Department has no national strategy designed to identify white supremacist police officers or to protect the safety and civil rights of the communities they patrol. (Read the full report here).  

Systemic issues like white supremacists within the prison system are how racism permeates through the legal system. As activist Bree Newsome Bass recently noted, the profoundly ingrained presence prohibits reforming the system. 

“Again, we can’t reform this,” Newsome Bass tweeted. “It’s a direct outgrowth of the slave plantation system.”

“Leaving officers tainted by racist behavior in a job with immense discretion to take a person’s life and liberty requires a detailed supervision plan to mitigate the potential threats they pose to the communities they police, implemented with sufficient transparency to restore public trust,” the Brennan Center report read.  


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