Earlier this morning the brilliant Aram Roston of Reuters broke the news that the leader of the white supremacist group, The Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was a “prolific informer for law enforcement.” Let me unpack and explain what went down:
Years ago, dude got busted selling stolen diabetes test kits that he re-labeled. Yeah, I didn’t know that was a thing either. To get his prison sentence reduced, he became a super-active police informant for local police and the FBI - helping to bust people growing weed in grow houses, and much more. At least a dozen people are in prison right now as a result.
When he was confronted over this new revelation by reporters, he played dumb and basically told them that he couldn’t remember if he had done any of those things.
It’s one of those situations where I am equal parts shocked and not shocked. I’m shocked in the sense that I had no idea this lifelong asshole was a literal police informant and partner. I am not shocked, though, in the sense that white supremacists have been working with police for a VERY long time.
The systems and structures of modern day policing were very much built on the backs of the violent and cruel slave-patrols of the old Confederacy. Back then, those patrols were not just partners of plantations, they were direct-extensions of the profit motive of the plantations themselves. From the Emancipation Proclamation until today, police departments have routinely protected white power and white property at the center of their existence.
Consequently, KKK members primarily wore hoods so that people around town wouldn’t know it was their local white deacons, pastors, and police officers out doing the lynching. The connection between white supremacy and policing has always been crystal clear. And this isn’t just me being a conspiracy theorist, all the way back in 2006 the FBI issued a warning that white supremacists had plans to fully infiltrate police departments.
The real question now is, are the leaders of the Proud Boys still currently working with the FBI? And if so, how? This man was arrested for his violent actions in DC days before they took over the Capitol - and was effectively banned from entering DC on the day of the attack. Was the FBI involved with that in any capacity?
I’m not sure we’ll ever get the true details, but this much is clear - the partnership between police and bigots runs deep in this country.
The North Star is a network of Black and Latinx journalists and creators that provide daily news stories and podcasts with action steps that help you get involved. We speak truth to power without fear because our stories, our voices and our lives matter. Please consider becoming a member and enjoy exclusive benefits of our ad-free platform for as little as $5 a month.