29 police officers were fired for sharing far-right symbols such as pictures of Adolf Hitler and the swastika. Our police departments, meanwhile, freely flies the Confederate flag.
A group of 29 police officers has been suspended from duty, BBC News reports. The officers were sharing pictures of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and depictions of refugees in gas chambers through their phones. They also used chatrooms populated by far-right users to post swastikas and other Nazi symbols. North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Interior Minister Herbert Reul said the incident was a "disgrace for NRW police." This is only one of several other similar incidents to have taken place in the past. However, officials were quick to act. In the United States, meanwhile, police officers are permitted to freely share emblems of the country's racist past, including the Confederate flag.
29 police officers in Germany were suspended for sharing far-right and neo-Nazi propaganda on social media, like swastikas and images of refugees in gas chambers.— AJ+ (@ajplus) September 17, 2020
Officials called it "alarming" and say they will investigate for further right-wing infiltration in police. pic.twitter.com/J4tsxfW1Pu
It is believed that the 29 officers shared more than 100 neo-Nazi images in WhatsApp groups. Some of the cops in the group have been charged with spreading Nazi propaganda and hate speech, whereas others have been accused of not reporting their colleagues' actions. An investigation is still ongoing. Minister Reul believes that more incriminating chats with offensive content will arise through the investigation. He said, "This is the worst and most repulsive kind of hate-baiting." Frank Richter, the police chief in the city of Essen where most of the suspects were based, added, "I'm appalled and ashamed. It is hard to find words."
29 police officers in Germany suspended for sharing neo-Nazi images https://t.co/TrAp25l3I3— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 16, 2020
The investigation will survey the extent of extremism among the state's police. Reul affirmed, "Right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis have absolutely no place in the North Rhine-Westphalia police, our police." Police officers will be expected to show a "crystal clear political profile" that explicitly rejects the far right. The investigation comes after multiple accusations claiming that Germany's police and security services do not currently do enough to "root out extremists" within their forces. Police departments from the United States could stand to learn from the European nation's actions.
Unlike Germany, police forces within the US have protected police officers who actively exhibit signs of far-right extremism and other forms of bigotry. If the recent murders of unarmed Black folks by White officers are not signs of this, there have been other incidents that could easily be categorized under hate crimes. For instance, San Diego's Gettysburg City Police only recently removed the Confederate flag from its official patch despite years of criticism. The move was prompted by Gettysburg Police Chief Dave Mogar and backed by the City Council in July. Evidently, we need more leaders to initiate systemic change. Our history is one of oppression. Though we may not be able to change that, we can definitely make reparations and move forward on a more inclusive note as Germany has.