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White Racism in America's Police Departments Is So Much Worse Than Most Americans Understand

CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues' new book exposes the under-reported "ghost skins": hidden white supremacists in law enforcement.

Jeff Pegues, Prometheus Books / Alternet stay on top of important articles like these, sign up here to receive the latest updates from all reader supported Evergreene Digest. San Francisco, May 15, 2015: SFPD officers pat down a black man in San Francisco. Overall, black Americans are arrested at 2.6 times the per-capita rate of other Americans. Photo Credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

AlterNet Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from the new book Black and Blue: Inside the Divide Between the Police and Black America by Jeff Pegues (Prometheus Books, May 2017).

Ghost Skins

The vast majority of police officers across the nation are doing the right thing. But there is a small percentage who are tarnishing the badge. Over the last several years, in addition the police shootings that have sparked calls for reform, there have been scandals in departments from coast to coast. Some of those scandals have highlighted explicit racism within the ranks. Once again, technology plays a role in how that racism is exposed, as text messages often unearth bigotry in the rank and file. In 2015, an internal investigation in Miami Beach, Florida, revealed that sixteen officers had sent hundreds of racially offensive, sexist, and pornographic e-mails. Two of the officers were high-ranking and were believed to be the main instigators.

According to CBS reporting, Miami Beach police chief Daniel Oates informed reporters that the internal investigation uncovered 230 e-mails that were demeaning to African Americans and women or pornographic in nature. Many were reported to be depictions of crude racial jokes involving President Obama or black celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods. One showed a woman with a black eye and the caption, “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.” One of the racially offensive e-mails depicted a board game called “Black Monopoly” in which every square says “go to jail.”

Jeff Pegues is the justice and homeland security correspondent for CBS News. In this capacity he has participated in closed-door interviews with FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. In the aftermath of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, Pegues orchestrated an interview with the chiefs of police representing four major U.S. cities. In 2015, he covered all angles of the Charleston, South Carolina, church killings, beginning with the manhunt for the suspect and culminating with a special report analyzing President Obama's eulogy at the funeral of State Senator Clementa Pinckney.

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