Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life — but no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we’re pleased to introduce our weekly racism surveillance machine. If you already get our newsletter, Minority Report, you’ve likely seen this — but now the rest of the internet can get a taste.
🗑 New York’s court system still as racist as it was three decades ago
That’s not a guesstimate, people. In 1991, an investigating commission said that “there are two justice systems at work in the courts of New York State, one for Whites, and a very different one for minorities and the poor.” Now, 29 years later, an entirely new investigation has come to entirely the same conclusion. The independent report, which was commissioned in June and published last week, found that the state’s court system is riddled with bias and racism at every level, from court officers all the way up to judges. Whether Black and Latinx attorneys not being believed by White judges or court officers using racial slurs and handcuffing Black defendants during court appearances for minor matters — not to mention the time-honored tradition of racist-ass Facebook posts — the whole thing feels utterly, entirely unsurprising. So one more time, and with feeling: Avoid the bookings, beloveds. (New York Times)
🗑 Didja hear the one about the actual literal Nazi who became a cop?
Meet Joseph Zacharek. Living in Indiana, Zacharek’s just your average 27-year-old Army vet who’s here to drink a few beers and meet some nice ladies. Wait, no, sorry, we misread his old forum posts on the notorious neo-Nazi message board Iron March: He’s actually “fully NatSoc” (national socialist, aka Nazi) who’s here for “higher level fascist discourse.” What a catch! After taking part in some of that discourse, Zacharek got hired by the Lafayette Police Department in June — at least until he got outed last week and promptly fired. Two things, though. First is the LPD chief’s statement, which included the sentence “Officer Zacharek’s comments were not in harmony with the spirit of cooperation and inclusion in the community that the Lafayette Police Department values.” NOT IN HARMONY WITH THE SPIRIT OF COOPERATION AND INCLUSION? That’s how you describe someone who talks about “the diseased culture of Blacks?” Oh, and also, second: Don’t think Zacharek is alone. As the Center for Investigative Reporting has uncovered, hundreds of law enforcement officers are members of hate groups or anti-government militias. This is a real thing. (NBC News)
🗑 Wait, is Indiana becoming the new Florida?
It seems that Joseph Zacharek isn’t exactly the end of racist news coming out of the Hoosier State. Jeannine Lee Lake, a Black woman who’s running for Congress against Mike Pence’s brother Greg, says she’s been on the receiving end of racist phone messages and vandalism ever since a county GOP group put her contact information on Facebook. While Pence himself (Greg, not Mike) has denied any involvement, it’s worth noting that he’s not exactly an anti-racist out in these streets: An antique shop he owns sells caricaturish objects like “mammy” cookie jars and a coin bank that… let’s just say it features a watermelon. So watch it, Indiana: You may have given us the Jacksons, Freddie Gibbs, and David Letterman, but you’re one racist incident away from going full Panhandle. (ABC News)