This article is a follow-up to Spartan’s piece on July 30th pondering why GOP Senator Kevin Cramer calling the capitol police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt a “hero” was never picked up and recirculated by the right-wing propaganda mill. My own theory is that the story was killed off because of growing discontent within the ranks of our nation’s police departments, particularly members of the nation’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police.
From a legal perspective, the reason that no charges were pursued in the Babbit case has to do with the Supreme Court precedent in Tennessee v. Garner. The shorthand version of that court case that circulates among police officers is basically “if someone is running away, and they’re not armed, then you can’t shoot them because that’s excessive force. They do not represent a physical threat to you at that point and that level of force would be cruel and unusual. If someone is advancing towards you, and they are armed and their demeanor suggests they intend to cause you physical harm, then you have the right to use lethal force.” Ergo, because Ashli Babbitt was ignoring an officers verbal commands to retreat and advancing through the broken window of a Federal Building that was currently in a state of lockdown, the officer had legal authorization in that situation to use lethal force.
There’s absolutely no question that the reason that Trump supporters want the name of the officer who killed Babbitt is so that officers family can be harassed, and possibly even subjected to abduction, torture, and murder. The situation speaks for itself. Also, the inherent racism of Trump supporters becomes obvious in this case as they had no problem with an officer who pulled George Floyd – a suspect who was already hand-cuffed and was not disobeying orders or resisting arrest – placing him on the ground and then kneeling on his neck until he died of suffocation, but they do have a problem with an officer trying to defend a Federal Building from a marauding white woman. It’s pretty clear to all that conservatives only support police officers when they use the authority of their position to assert notions of white supremacy, and the MAGA crowd hates officers that would enforce the law against MAGA terrorists. Many of our nation’s police officers, especially minority officers, are probably getting a bit uncomfortable with their union supporting a movement whose motivations are so blatant.
That set of circumstances creates a conflict of interest for the MAGA movement. Racist and corrupt police officers effectively represent the core paramilitary strength of the MAGA movement. The US Military is currently engaged in an effort to purge fascists from their ranks, and MAGA motorcycle gangs that are responsible for most of our nation’s firearms trafficking may soon be decimated by Biden Administration efforts to increase staff and funding levels for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and the creation of “Gun trafficking strike force units” in our nation’s cities. Without dirty, racist cops the MAGA “army” basically consists of nothing but angry drunks, wife-beaters and flaky hippy-dippy shaman types.
Not all police officers are happy with the pro-Trump stance of the Fraternal Order of Police, and many, most notably and vocally Capitol Police officer Michael Fanone, are upset by the union’s failure to offer greater support to Capitol Police officers who had to face down rioters on January 6th. Could the Cramer story have been covered up because leaders in the Fraternal Order of Police were upset about unrest in their ranks, and didn’t want the MAGA echo chamber verbally attacking our nation’s police unions? Did the Republican Party’s Russian propaganda advisers warn against the promotion of any stories that would include criticism of the police? Were current leaders in the Fraternal Order of Police concerned that greater public discussion of corruption and racism within the FOP leadership might lead to a no-confidence vote in the current leadership and a call for more minority union leaders, to reflect the growing number of African-American police officers in our nation’s cities?
This all begs the question: who was it that ordered the primary propaganda organs in the right-wing echo chamber to hold off on the Cramer story? Does the right-wing echo chamber really operate on a model like the John Birch society where key propaganda efforts are reviewed by a board of senior leaders within the society and where the performance of individual units is subject to constant review? Who is leading this board that is so powerful in MAGA-world that he was able to kill a story on a variety of right-wing media outlets because he was concerned the discussion might diminish the paramilitary force of the MAGA movement?