Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Valley Police Departments' Biggest Supporters Are Ideologically Driven Bigots And Racists



Holding a "thin blue line" flag, and carrying a handwritten sign, pro-police activist Nohl Rosen held a one man protest outside of the Chandler police department headquarters in early October.  This was the latest in what has become a one man show for Rosen, despite his attempts to build a mass of public support for police through his "Rally for L.E." social media presence.  The Chandler Police Department took a photo of Rosen's demonstration of support and posted it on their Twitter and Facebook page thanking him for his support.

Scottsdale Police joined Rosen for a photo op outside of a police station. The photo was posted to the department's Facebook page.

A late September demonstration in Scottsdale attracted a similar response from the Scottsdale Police Department, only this time a few officers joined him in the photograph. In a comment left by Rosen on the Facebook post, he claims an officer also brought him out a bottle of water.  It's the same story in Glendale, as Rosen posted photos of officers joining his pro-cop demonstration, with one officer even holding Rosen's "thin blue line" flag, and Glendale Chief of Police Deborah Black left a comment on Rosen's Twitter personally thanking him for his support of the department.

A retweet from the Glendale Police Department and a tweet of support from the police chief.

Over the last year Nohl Rosen has become the valley's most visible pro-police activist, in addition to his one man rallies he also organizes pro-police demonstrations, and shares news from other pro-police sources through the "Rally for L.E." social media handle.  According to Rosen's Rally for L.E. website, Rosen organized to support police in "December 2014 after the founder of the movement Nohl Rosen got tired of seeing law enforcement get attacked on a daily basis not just by anti-police protests but by the media as well."  Rosen has frequently described Rally for L.E. as "a movement," although he may be the group's only permanent member.

A Phoenix police officer joins Rosen's one man demonstration.

A pro-Scottsdale Police rally, organized by Rosen in January, attracted media attention when opposing demonstrators clashed in front of Scottsdale Police headquarters. Like many of pro-police rallies organized by Rosen, this one attracted elected officials, former and current law enforcement, and far-right political activists, many of them armed.  Among the note worthy Scottsdale political figures in attendance were Mayor Jim Lane, Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp, and Chief of Police Alan Rodbell, who stood by even as pro-cop supporters got physical with counter-demonstrators.

Also present was embattled ASU police officer Stewart Ferrin (who resigned weeks later), who spoke at the demonstration to thank his supporters, and to stand in support of Scottsdale police.  Down and Drought covered the online police response to the incident which first landed the now former ASU officer Ferrin in the news after his violent take down of a black ASU professor.

We also contributed to the coverage of the protest in Scottsdale when we published a piece on Van Berry, a sergeant in the Arizona Army National Guard's military police unit, and an attendee of Rosen's Scottsdale rally who was captured on video assaulting a videographer at the rally. We published screenshots of posts from Berry's public Facebook page, including a post that linked to a white supremacist site about mosque burnings in Europe.  Berry "liked" a comment left on the article which said "Burn them all!"



The rally in Scottsdale attracted another rightwing activist, Barb Heller, a die hard supporter of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, she has been a fixture at anti-immigrant protests for over a decade in the valley, making the news years back when she wore a medical mask while protesting an immigration march with with "No TB please" written on it.

Heller, seen here counter-demonstrating, at an immigrant march near Tent City

Like Berry, we found anti-Muslim comments on a public post made by Barb Heller on her Facebook page, where she wrote "WE WILL DIP OUR BULLETS IN PIGS BLOOD & URINE!!" in response to a news article about graffiti of the word "Jihad." 


Heller boasts of her proximity to law enforcement by posting pictures on Facebook of her attending citizen law enforcement classes, posing with police officers during police operations, and attending political events in support of Sheriff Arpaio.

 Barb Heller claiming to work with Phoenix police on "Operation High Tide"

Which brings us back to Nohl Rosen, who, like Berry and Heller has opinions leaning to the extreme fringe of the rightwing.  One can easily find anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim statements made online by Nohl Rosen's by running his name through a search engine, and he's become a public supporter for the Confederate flag. Rosen participated in a pro-Confederate flag rally, organized by anti-Muslim activist Jon Ritzheimer, the served as a hub for far-right and white supremacist activists, again many of them armed. Among those who attended the rally was a man who identifies as "Johnny Rebel," the self described Imperial Cleric of the Rebel Outlaw Knights Of The Ku Klux Klan, which he claims is active in Arizona.

"Johnny Rebel", holding the Confederate flag, yells at counter demonstrators. Nohl Rosen stands to Rebel's left in the green shirt.

Rosen spoke to the press at the event as well, and was quoted in a USA Today article in which he was described by the writer as "[o]ne of the most animated Confederate-flag supporters." Rosen spoke in support of the flag saying "[t]he Confederate flag is not a racist flag; it's a part of our history."  Right.

And Rosen's opinions do tend to the extreme fringe of the right wing.  A look around the internet provided plenty of inflammatory comments from Rosen.  Take for example a comment left on the Fox 10 Facebook page in an article regarding a Muslim complaining of discriminatory treatment from an airline. Rosen responds by calling for the mass deportation of all Muslims in the United States.


And where does the law and order loving Rosen stand on Mosques, specifically when they are the target of threatening letters?  He sure doesn't stand with the FBI investigating the case, no, his solution is to get rid of all mosques.


And Rosen is a "Birther," here's a post from 2010 when he questions whether President Barack Obama is a US citizen.


While Rosen's political leanings are likely unknown to the police officers who join him in his one man protests, the political rhetoric he uses online and at demonstrations, often in front of police officers, is no secret. Nor is his contempt for anyone who criticizes or demonstrates against police actions, in a recent video posted online, Rosen calls for "the anti-cop movement" to be destroyed.
If all else fails, perhaps Nohl Rosen can leverage the popularity of fringe rhetoric to make a buck off of his pro-police activism, he's currently trying to build a pro-police business directory on his Rally For L.E. website. He's currently offering pro-police businesses a basic listing on his website for $20 a month, or a yearly basic listing for $240.  A featured business listing runs for $480, and includes mentions on the Rally For L.E. social media accounts. No information could be found to confirm if any businesses had purchased this advertising space from Rally For L.E..

This overlap between police, military, and far right extremists must be of concern to anyone who believes that people should be able to freely organize and assemble to challenge the actions of the government without coercion from the state or state sanctioned vigilantes.  Currently police departments are facing widespread protests and anger over the use of force, racial profiling, and militarization across the country. Do they also want to be known for enabling, showing support for, or protecting these most controversial supporters?


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