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August 23, 2012 3

Extremist-Related Police Killings Continue to Mount

The recent shoot­ings in St. John the Bap­tist Parish in Louisiana, in which two offi­cers were killed and two more injured, high­light the con­tin­u­ing dan­ger domes­tic extrem­ists pose to offi­cer safety in the United States. Research by the Anti-Defamation League has found that at least one of the sus­pects has ide­o­log­i­cal lean­ings that would put him within the over­ar­ch­ing anti-government “Patriot” movement.

The Louisiana shoot­ings were unfor­tu­nately only the lat­est in a series of lethal encoun­ters in the United States between law enforce­ment offi­cers and domes­tic extrem­ists.  Ear­lier this year, six police offi­cers were shot, one fatally, in Ogden, Utah, after police entered a res­i­dence to exe­cute a search war­rant. Infor­ma­tion from the search war­rant affi­davit strongly sug­gests that the sus­pect, David Stew­art, was an anti-government extrem­ist.  In 2010, two peo­ple asso­ci­ated with the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment killed two East Mem­phis police offi­cers and wounded two other offi­cers in a pair of shootouts.

All in all, at least 28 offi­cers have been killed since 2001 in encoun­ters with extrem­ists from one move­ment or another. The killings have ranged from inci­dents in which police offi­cers were delib­er­ately tar­geted by extrem­ists to sit­u­a­tions in which police offi­cers hap­pened to encounter extrem­ists engag­ing in ide­o­log­i­cal or non-ideological crim­i­nal activity.

Over­whelm­ingly, the per­pe­tra­tors or sus­pects in these lethal inci­dents have been right-wing extrem­ists, adher­ents of one or another of the pri­mary white suprema­cist move­ments or anti-government extrem­ist move­ments active in the United States today.  This is part of a long-term trend since the 1980s, in which right-wing extrem­ists grad­u­ally replaced left-wing extrem­ists as the main source of extremist-related offi­cer killings in the United States.  Though the fig­ures here are solely for fatal­i­ties, anec­do­tal evi­dence sug­gests that the same trends hold for non-lethal extremist-related attacks on police offi­cers as well.

The resur­gence of right-wing extrem­ism in the United States since 2009 has undoubt­edly con­tributed to the level of vio­lence:  between 2009 and 2012, eight of nine extremist-related offi­cer deaths have been linked to right-wing extremists.

Among right-wing extrem­ists, anti-government extrem­ists have been the most lethal in recent years, per­pe­trat­ing or sus­pected of hav­ing per­pe­trated half of the extremist-related offi­cer deaths this cen­tury.  How­ever, white suprema­cists have slain nearly as many offi­cers in the same time period and, in a prac­ti­cal sense, rep­re­sent vir­tu­ally the same level of threat to offi­cer safety.

  • Sam

    Right wing extrem­ism is increas­ing in Amer­ica. Thanks to the Repub­li­cans speech.
    The only good thing about the Repub­li­can party is they sup­port Israel.

  • Adam

    I guess the killing of inno­cent babies are good in sams book.

  • JLance­Combs

    I actu­ally stud­ied this for my degree. Right wing extrem­ism is NOT on the rise. Islamic extrem­ism con­tin­ues to increase and left-wing extrem­ism had a resur­gence after the OWS move­ment. The only thing that has increased on the right is anti-government rhetoric. Intel­li­gence agen­cies, over the last few years, kept PREDICTING an increase of right-wing vio­lence. The pre­dicted increase never hap­pened, but left­ist vio­lence increased in the past year and a half. The ADL gives no exter­nal source for their research. I trust my own data over theirs. I’m more of an expert on the sub­ject than any­one in the ADL.