California police investigating a violent white nationalist event worked with white supremacists in an effort to identify counter-protesters and sought the prosecution of activists with “anti-racist” beliefs, court documents show.
The records, which also showed officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity, were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists who were charged with felonies after protesting at a Sacramento rally. The defendants were urging a judge to dismiss their case and accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists”.
Defense lawyers said the case at the state capital offers the latest example of US law enforcement appearing to align with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups while targeting anti-fascist activists and Donald Trump protesters after violent clashes.
Some California highway patrol (CHP) investigation records, however, raise questions about the police’s investigative tactics and communication with the TWP (Traditional Worker's Party).
Felarca’s attorneys obtained numerous examples of CHP officers working directly with the TWP, often treating the white nationalist group as victims and the anti-fascists as suspects.
The TWP is “intimately allied with neo-Nazi and other hardline racist organizations” and “advocates for racially pure nations”, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its leaders have praised Trump, and the group claimed to bring more than 100 people to the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, where a counter-protester was killed.
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.”
Ayres’s reports noted that McCormack was armed at the rally with a knife.
The officer’s write-up about an African American anti-fascist activist included a photo of him at the hospital after the rally and noted that he had been stabbed in the abdomen, chest and hand.
Ayres, however, treated the protester like a suspect in the investigation. The police investigator recommended the man be charged with 11 offenses, including disturbing the peace, conspiracy, assault, unlawful assembly and wearing a mask to evade police.
As evidence, Ayres provided Facebook photos of the man holding up his fist. The officer wrote that the man’s “Black Power salute” and his “support for anti-racist activism” demonstrated his “intent and motivation to violate the civil rights” of the neo-Nazi group. He was ultimately not charged.