Recent media reports have pointed to U.S. Attorney General William Barr as the person who ordered the group of peaceful protesters in Washington DC this past Monday (06/01) to be dispersed so that President Trump could walk to St John’s Church for the infamous Bible photo op. Even more troubling, are revelations that it was AG Barr who brought from Texas, the officials seen policing the protesters without any tags or insignia designating which federal agency they came from. This has led to concerns by many, most notably Sen Chris Murphy(D-CT), that AG Barr may be running a secret police force.
This serious issue of a possible secret police was covered on Friday’s edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show(TRMS) and followed up on Saturday’s edition of the AM Joy show. The guest on AM Joy show, Sarah Kendzior, is someone who has warned for years about Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and was therefore justifiably upset that both the mainstream media and the U.S. Congress have not done enough to push back on Trump’s incremental authoritarianism.
When asked by host Joy Reid whether AG Barr was running a secret police as Senator Murphy and others have intimated, Sarah Kendzior responded, “Yes, essentially. When you have no identification, you have no accountability, and accountability is what they’ve been trying to avoid and trying to destroy the entire time. What Malcolm[Nance] said before about Trump viewing the military as his own personal military, that of course extends to his view of [AG] Barr as his personal attorney, and that extends to their general philosophy for the United States which is not to govern, it’s to rule. It’s to see Americans who show any form of dissent, any form of independent thought as rivals, as enemies. It’s to deem the press itself as enemies of the state……This is a very consistent pattern for this administration. A lot of people were in denial about it because they kept thinking to themselves that is not what authoritarianism looks like. Authoritarianism means soldiers on the street, it means soldiers firing and fighting against their own citizens, well guess what, we are now at that point because people remained in denial for so long.”
Notice that both Sarah Kendzior’s commentary and Senator Chris Murphy’s tweet are advancing the same main argument and that is, the importance of accountability in law enforcement. This cannot be emphasized enough because the Trump administration and other proponents of this creeping authoritarianism have a tendency of painting critics as people, usually liberals, who are opposed to a strong and secure America. As Sarah Kendzior and Senator Chris Murphy correctly point out, the debate has never been about more or less security but rather, accountability. Americans simply want to know who in law enforcement is doing what so that in case of abuses, which are bound to happen, people know where to go to seek redress.
Bringing in armed officers from Texas to Washington DC to police a protest without identifying uniforms or insignia is the quintessential lack of accountability. One can even make a credible argument that AG Barr brought these “anonymous” officers from out of state to rough up protesters for the sole purpose of skirting accountability in case their actions crossed the line. Sarah Kendzior is absolutely correct that this should be enough cause for congress to immediately begin the process of impeaching AG Barr.
When asked about these unidentified officers, AG William Barr gave this explanation;”In the federal system, the agents don’t wear badges in their names and stuff like that, which non-federal police agencies do, and I could understand why some of these individuals simply wouldn’t want to talk to people about who they are, if that in fact was the case.” As you can see from AG Barr’s response, he puts zero premium on accountability and is perfectly okay with these secret police forces.
It cannot also be left unsaid that there is a fear among members of the public of what appears to be an increasing reliance on vigilantes by law enforcement agencies nationwide. This issue was brought front and center in the recent high profile case of Ahmaud Arbery, where a text surfaced showing a Glynn County(GA) police officer enlisting the services of a vigilante, who later killed Arbery. This again pings back to the issue of accountability. The only reason a law enforcement agency would resort to using vigilantes is to cover their tracks in case something goes wrong, as it horribly did in Arbery’s case. This simply cannot be allowed in law enforcement.
#BREAKING:A new text has surfaced in the #AhmaudArbery case which shows the local police ENLISTING THE SERVICES OF vigilante #GregoryMcMichael, who later killed him. OH BOY!!#TheResistance #CNN #MSNBC #FoxNews #Yahoo #Google #SaturdayThoughts #FBRPartyhttps://t.co/JDqHELQbtI— Emoluments Clause (@Emolclause) May 16, 2020
Bottom line the mainstream media and members of congress need to start paying close attention to the rise of vigilantism in American law enforcement. This is an issue that puts the lives and safety of the public, especially minorities, at serious risk and needs to be addressed immediately. Simply put, the public has every right to know exactly what agency(s) the law enforcement officials they encounter are working for so that they are clear as to where to seek redress in case of infractions. AG Barr’s seeming tolerance of secret police forces is patently un-American and must be shunned by every accountability-loving American.
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